Gateway Health News

Infertility (Male)

Infertility (Male)

Arginine is required for the formation of sperm. Indeed studies have shown that men
fed arginine deficient diets for as little as nine days reduce sperm count by as much as
90%, and that sperm motility is reduced dramatically. Research suggests that arginine
supplementation may be helpful in maintaining normal sperm counts and motility. In
fact in some studies in infertile men supplementation has resulted in pregnancies.
However, where sperm counts are very low, arginine appears to be less effective.

Carnitine is found in high concentrations in the epididymis of the testes, where sperm
mature and acquire their motility. Carnitine concentrations in semen appear to
correlate positively with both the number of sperm and sperm motility. Studies suggest
that carnitine supplementation may be of value in improving sperm count and motility
in infertile men.

Selenium is known to play a key role in male reproductive health, particularly in the
production of sperm, and in promoting their motility. Studies have frequently
correlated low semen selenium levels with low sperm count and poor motility. In one
study 69 men with poor sperm motility were given either selenium or a placebo for 3
months. At the end of this period the selenium treated men were found to have
significant increases in sperm motility, in contrast to a slight decline in that of the
placebo group. 11% of the selenium group also achieved paternity in this time,
compared with none in the placebo group. Selenium is an antagonist for a number of
heavy metals including cadmium, mercury and arsenic, all of which may adversely
affect sperm count and motility.

Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for the male reproductive system and plays
a vital role in sperm production and motility. Low zinc levels contribute to a reduction
in testosterone and an increase in the production of dihydrotestosterone (a disruptive
hormone). One study investigated the effect of zinc supplementation on men with
infertility. They were given zinc supplementation for 45-50 days, after which it was
found that the average sperm count had increased by approximately 250%.

Preliminary studies suggest that regular consumption of pomegranate juice may
enhance the quality and mobility of sperm. The results of the study demonstrated that
the daily consumption of pomegranate juice for seven weeks caused an increase in
sperm mobility, epididymal sperm concentration and spermatogenic cell density.
Further more, there was a decreased abnormal sperm rate related with lipid
peroxidation. It is thought that the fruit’s high concentration of antioxidant
compounds (particularly punicalagins) account for these health benefits.

Vitamin B12/Folic Acid
In men, even if no deficiency was found, B12 supplementation has been found to
increase numbers and motility of sperm in men with reduced sperm function. Folic acid
is essential for proper cell division. A deficiency may therefore be implicated in the
development of low sperm counts and reduced sperm motility.

Infertility Summary
Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range
L-Arginine1 500 – 4000mg per day (empty stomach)
L-Carnitine 500 – 2000mg per day (empty stomach)
Selenium2 50 – 200ug per day
Zinc3 15 – 30mg per day
Vitamin B12 200 – 1000ug per day
Folic Acid4 200 – 400ug per day
Pomegranate5 900mg per day

Saturated fats
Trans/hydrogenated fats
Refined/processed foods
Caffeinated beverages
Pesticide exposure
Artificial additives/preservatives

Nuts and seeds
Vegetarian options
Oily fish
Organic foods
Whole grains

Lifestyle Factors
Stop Smoking
Take regular exercise
Limit exposure to environmental toxins
Minimise impact of stress (employ stress management techniques)

1. Do not use concurrently with NSAIDs, platelet inhibitors, alendronate, theophylline products,
oral or injectable corticosteroids. Caution should be exercised with potassium sparing diuretics
and ACE inhibitors. Not to be taken by schizophrenics, pregnant or nursing women and those
suffering renal or hepatic failure.
2. Yeast-bound selenium should not be used concurrently with MAOI antidepressant medication.
Yeast free products can be used as an alternative.
3. Long term intake >100mg per day may suppress the immune system. Adequate copper intake is
advised with long-term zinc supplementation.
4. Use with schizophrenia under medical supervision only. High doses may increase risk of seizures
in some epileptics. Concurrent use with methotrexate under medical supervision only.
5. Do not use pomegranate supplements when pregnant or breastfeeding unless under medical