Why should men consider taking preconception vitamins?
Preconception vitamins…what the?
Yes they exist and yes they take more money from your wallet, and yes they give you peace of mind.
Fortunately, before even thinking of trying for a baby I went through a mini health spurt. For a few months I cut out all junk food, fizzy drinks and ate mostly “clean”…nothing too crazy but I instinctively felt I needed to cover any bases I missed.
The months of being acutely aware of what I was consuming made me want to research what goes into the pre-vitamins, and therein this post was born.
Before conceiving it makes sense that we should be eating healthy food and our general health should be good. Unfortunately, due to the daily stresses of life this isn’t always possible. However, it is possible to make small changes in these areas to build and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Women are generally more clued up about this and already know the importance of taking vitamins specifically before getting pregnant. An important vitamin for women to take is folic acid…taking this can help lower the risk for problems with the baby’s brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs). It is important to check with your doctor regarding the amount she should take.
So, what about us men? Show your significant other that you are part of this process and get your little soldiers in fighting shape.
Many multivitamin formulations for men might include antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and the minerals selenium and zinc. According to The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, research has found that antioxidants may cause a slight increase in sperm count and movement.
Dr. Jared Robins, chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Northwestern Medicine’s Fertility and Reproductive Medicine in Chicago said that it makes sense that antioxidants may improve sperm quality because they can protect against free radicals, which can cause damage to DNA within sperm cells .
When should I start taking preconception vitamins?
Future dads should start taking preconception vitamins three months before conception for healthy sperm.
Top 5 ingredients in men’s preconception vitamins
Ok, so you’re not the one who will be going through the actual pregnancy and birth. But your seed will set this whole thing in motion! So don’t forget how important it is. Show your spouse that you are planned and know your stuff.
Now if you are fortunate to be in a position to be planning for a baby, this makes the whole process easier. The pre-pregnancy vitamins give peace of mind that you did your part in giving your little one the best building blocks for their DNA and health.
Some of the key ingredients to look for are: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Zinc and Lycopene.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has several important functions.
- Helping to protect cells and keeps them healthy.
- Maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage.
- Helping with wound healing.
Lack of vitamin C can lead to scurvy. Mild deficiencies may occur in infants given unsupplemented cows’ milk and in people with poor or very restricted diets.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, oranges, kiwi fruit, broccoli, brussels sprouts, raw bell peppers and strawberries.
Good sources of vitamin C
Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Good sources include:
- Oranges and orange juice
- Red and green peppers
- Brussels sprouts
Vitamin E is an antioxidant. This means it protects body tissue from damage caused by substances called free radicals, which can harm cells, tissues, and organs. They are believed to play a role in certain conditions related to aging.
The body also needs vitamin E to help keep the immune system strong against viruses and bacteria.
Vitamin E is also important in the formation of red blood cells and it helps the body use vitamin K. Vitamin K is known as the clotting vitamin, because without it blood would not clot. Some studies suggest that it helps maintain strong bones in the older adults.
It also helps widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting inside them.
Cells use vitamin E to interact with each other and carry out many important functions.
Good sources of vitamin E
- Plant oils – such as soya, corn and olive oil.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Wheatgerm – found in cereals and cereal products.
Selenium helps the immune system work properly, as well as in reproduction. It also helps prevent damage to cells and tissues.
Good sources of selenium include:
- Brazil nuts.
Both you are your partner should be getting plenty of Zinc
Zinc contributes to ovulation and fertility in women and also semen and testosterone production in men, according to the American Pregnancy Association. “It has been noted that zinc deficiency can correlate with impaired sperm production,” says Burger. The Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health recommends that men receive a daily intake of 11 mg of zinc and women take 8 mg. Oysters have more zinc per serving than any other food. But there are plenty of other zinc-rich options such as:
Zinc helps with:
- Making new cells and enzymes.
- Processing carbohydrate, fat and protein in food.
- Wound healing.
Good sources of zinc include:
- Dairy foods – such as cheese.
- Cereal products – such as wheatgerm.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can protect and repair the body from damage caused by a multiple diseases.
Good sources of Lycopene include:
- Red Cabbage.
Folic acid is a B vitamin. This supplement is used to boost fertility in men. MayoClinic.com reports that treatment with folic acid is believed to boost the motility of sperm. It also works to improve overall sperm counts. The Cornell Institute of Reproductive Medicine suggests you take 800 mcg of folic acid daily to help aid conception. Research is still underway to determine the full benefits of folic acid as a tool to improve fertility in men.
Once you have the top 5 vitamins covered, a few of the nice to haves are:
Niacin (vitamin B3)
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, helps:
release energy from the foods we eat
keep the nervous system and skin healthy
There are 2 forms of niacin: nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. Both are found in food.
Good sources of niacin include:
- Wheat flour.
How much niacin do I need?
16.5mg a day for men
13.2mg a day for women
You should be able to get all the niacin you need from your daily diet.
Niacin can’t be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.
What happens if I take too much niacin?
Taking high doses of nicotinic acid supplements can cause skin flushes. Taking high doses for a long time could lead to liver damage.
There’s not enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high daily doses of nicotinamide supplements.
What does the Department of Health advise?
You should be able to get the amount of niacin you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.
If you take niacin supplements, don’t take too much as this might be harmful.
Taking 17mg or less of nicotinic acid supplements a day or 500mg or less of nicotinamide supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.
Iodine helps make thyroid hormones, which help keep cells and the metabolic rate (the speed at which chemical reactions take place in the body) healthy.
Good food sources of iodine include:
- Sea fish.
Iodine can also be found in plant foods, such as cereals and grains, but the levels vary depending on the amount of iodine in the soil where the plants are grown.
How much iodine do I need?
Adults need 0.14mg of iodine a day.
Most people should be able to get all the iodine they need by eating a varied and balanced diet.
What happens if I take too much iodine?
Taking high doses of iodine for long periods of time could change the way your thyroid gland works.
This can lead to a wide range of different symptoms, such as weight gain.
What does the Department of Health and Social Care advise?
You should be able to get all the iodine you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.
If you take iodine supplements, don’t take too much as this could be harmful.
Taking 0.5mg or less a day of iodine supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.
Overall good health can increase the chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy. And besides, making sure you get the right vitamins and nutrients contributes to overall good health. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, vitamins and proper nutrition can go a long way toward making your body baby-ready.
Take the vitamins in addition to a clean diet not as a substitute.
Look out for vitamins that contain: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Zinc and Lycopene.
What are the best preconception tablets to take?
Other recommended preconception vitamins: