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5 nutrients for men with a desire to have children

Do you and your partner have a strong desire to get pregnant? Then you may have already noticed that around becoming pregnant the attention is often strongly focused on women. Not very strange of course since women carry the baby. But in the midst of this focus on women, fortunately more and more men are realizing that they also play a role in this preparation. After all, it's not all on the woman; it takes two to tango.

Therefore, it is important to understand what your body needs if you and your partner have a pregnancy desire. In this blog, we dive deeper into five key nutrients specifically targeted at men with a desire to have children.ย 

Wondering what nutrients are important for women who want to get pregnant? Read the 4 nutrients a woman needs in our blog.ย 

Why testosterone is important in this topic

Although women also produce small amounts, testosterone is the male fertility hormone. Testosterone has broad effects in the body. In addition to affecting bone and muscle mass, fat storage and red blood cell production, testosterone affects your libido and sperm production. During puberty, testosterone production increases in boys, leading to all sorts of physical changes. Think of that famous beard in the throat and body hairiness. After age 30, there is a tipping point and the natural production of testosterone gradually decreases. You can notice low testosterone levels in terms of low energy and sex drive, weight gain, difficulty concentrating and irritability, among other things.

Did you know that diet and lifestyle are often the cause of low testosterone? This is good news, you as a man can also do something to make your testosterone go through the ceiling again.

Practical tips for men

To boost your chances of a successful pregnancy, you yourself can adapt these tips into your daily routine:

  • Start with strength training. Strength training stimulates the release of testosterone, the male sex hormone, which can contribute to men's normal hormonal balance and fertility. And men, those weights can feel pretty heavy!
  • Ensure a healthy weight. If your fat percentage is too high, it kicks your hormones into disarray and gets your swimmers in trouble. At the same time, too little weight can also affect sperm production.
  • Stop smoking and drinking (a lot). It's not only good for women to stop doing this. Too much alcohol and smoking are also not good for your testosterone levels.
  • Get enough sleep (7-9 hours). A good night's sleep is important for normal testosterone levels, as the majority of testosterone production occurs during sleep. Did you know that most of the testosterone is produced during the deep sleep stages?

Of course, it is also important to choose a balanced and natural diet with an abundance of vegetables, fruits, high-quality protein and good fats. Good fats and proteins can be found in oily fish, oysters, grass-fed (organ) meat, dairy, eggs, butter, seeds (specifically hemp seeds) and unroasted nuts.

5 specific nutrients for men

It is always best to get these nutrients through your diet. We explain five nutrients to you:

1. Zinc

Zinc, an essential mineral, plays a fundamental role in the body in both men and women. For example, zinc helps in the cell division process, to stay sharp sight and in keeping the skin healthy. It also has a positive influence on the immune system. For men specifically, zinc contributes to maintaining normal testosterone levels. The mineral is good for sperm quality, contributing to normal male fertility.

You can find zinc in oysters, meat, pumpkin seeds, cashews, lentils and quinoa, among others.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin. When our skin is exposed to the sun, it converts vitamin D into an active form, which is then transported to the liver and kidneys. Here it undergoes further conversions to the final usable form. There are studies suggesting that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with reduced testosterone levels.ย 

Vitamin D has several benefits, including supporting the immune system, promoting tissue growth and development, and maintaining strong bones. It also plays a role in testosterone production and is important for overall sperm health.

Although we make most of our vitamin D in the sun, we also find the vitamin in small amounts in oily fish, organic egg yolks, mushrooms, cheese and grass-fed beef liver.

In the Netherlands, the sun in winter is not powerful enough for sufficient vitamin D production, which is influenced by factors such as skin color and the use of sunscreen. In such cases, it may be helpful to take vitamin D3 as a supplement. Read more about the importance of vitamin D in our blog.

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. This antioxidant is known to be able to improve sperm quality and reduce damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can be harmful to cells and tissues. The neutralizing effect of vitamin C reduces the negative effects of free radicals, which in turn contributes to healthier reproductive function.ย 

Foods such as guava, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons), strawberries, kiwi, peppers and broccoli are rich in vitamin C.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral involved in several biological processes in the body. In fact, the mineral plays a role in the transmission of impulses between (nerve) cells. In addition, it is good for your muscles, concentration ability and helps release energy from food. It also contributes to reducing fatigue.

Nowadays, everyone is familiar with busyness and stress. Stress can affect testosterone production by increasing the stress hormone cortisol. If this increase in cortisol persists for a long time, it can lead to disruptions in hormonal balance, which ultimately lowers testosterone levels.

Thus, although magnesium does not directly affect fertility, adequate magnesium levels can indirectly contribute to overall health.

Foods rich in magnesium include nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, oily fish, whole grain cereals, beans, legumes, avocados and bananas.

5. Omega-3 fatty acids

Finally, omega 3, a collection of essential unsaturated fatty acids. There are three types of omega 3:ย 

  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)ย 
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).ย 

DHA and EPA are good for the heart, blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Because our bodies do not produce these fatty acids themselves, it is important to get them through food. Read more in our blog about what omega 3 is good for.

Especially in women during pregnancy, DHA plays a crucial role as a building block for brain development in the fetus and breastfed infants. But omega 3 is also important for you as a man.ย 

Oily fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to omega 3, fatty fish also contains vitamin D which is important for hormonal health.(1) But maybe eating fish twice a week doesn't work for you or you have made a conscious decision not to eat animal products. Read in this blog what good alternatives to fish.

There are several studies showing a link between omega 3 fatty acids and the male reproductive organ.(2,3) Processed and fried foods (yes, including that bowl of kibbeling), on the other hand, were found to cause lower testosterone levels.(4)

Do you eat little or no fish? Read our blog 4x what to look out for when buying omega 3 fish oil to gain insight into the best fish oil.

Conclusion

How do you think your testosterone levels are doing? If you suspect there is some improvement possible here, there is work to be done. Lift those heavy weights, cook that healthy meal, eat that bowl of oysters and get to sleep on time. Get your diet to a level where your testosterone goes through the roof. Take matters into your own hands and do your own part on the road to family expansion.ย 

Resources

  1. Chen, C., Zhai, H., Cheng, J., Weng, P., Chen, Y., Li, Q., ... & Lu, Y. (2019). Causal link between vitamin D and total testosterone in men: a Mendelian randomization analysis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 104(8), 3148-3156.
  2. Mรญnguez-Alarcรณn, L., Chavarro, J. E., Mendiola, J., Roca, M., Tanrikut, C., Vioque, J., ... & Torres-Cantero, A. M. (2017). Fatty acid intake in relation to reproductive hormones and testicular volume among young healthy men. Asian journal of andrology., 19(2), 184.
  3. Jensen, T. K., Priskorn, L., Holmboe, S. A., Nassan, F. L., Andersson, A. M., Dalgรฅrd, C., ... & Jรธrgensen, N. (2020). Associations of fish oil supplement use with [...] in young men. JAMA network open, 3(1), e1919462-e1919462.
  4. Kurniawan, A. L., Hsu, C. Y., Chao, J. C., Paramastri, R., Lee, H. A., Lai, P. C., ... & Wu, S. F. V. (2021). Association of testosterone-related dietary pattern with testicular function among adult men: A cross-sectional health screening study in Taiwan. Nutrients, 13(1), 259.