Vitamins for dad-to-be? Prenatal pops' supplements?
June 29, 2012 10:36 AM   Subscribe

What vitamins or supplements should a father-to-be take before conception? Looking for quality swimmers! (Corollary, what foods to avoid?)

We're getting closer and closer to having kids and I see plenty of info about vitamins mother-to-be should be taking, but what about dads?

What should I be considering taking to ensure some strong swimmers? I see a few things to do to get more swimmers (lose weight, not too much booze, etc), but I want a winner to make it to the egg!

No, I don't expect zinc supplements to get my as-of-yet-unconceived child into Harvard, but, hey, anything helps, eh?

I suppose ideas on what to avoid would also be helpful, thanks!
posted by unclezeb to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: From this article:

Dr. Marc Goldstein, director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Microsurgery at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. He encourages his patients to supplement their diets with a multivitamin along with an extra 500 milligrams of vitamin C (more than five times the RDA), 200 international units (IUs) of vitamin E (about nine times the RDA), 200 micrograms of selenium (almost four times the RDA), 800 micrograms of folic acid (almost twice the RDA), and 200 mg of coenzyme Q10. He says he doesn't recommend L-carnitine because recent studies suggest it doesn't really help.

The fertility doc my friends and I saw in the process of conceiving their children (I was the egg) recommended something similar, though I think he was even higher on the folic acid.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:41 AM on June 29, 2012

Perhaps the reason you're not seeing that info is that, as Dr. Goldstein said in the LA Times article, "the effects of vitamins and minerals on male fertility are, at best, 'minimal.'"

For general health, recent research has suggested that multivitamins actually harm health. One hypothesis is that some people who take vitamins see them as substitutes for healthy eating; "I popped a pill so I can have the donut instead of the oatmeal." That's not to discourage you from taking supplements, but remember to make sure that it really does supplement a health diet, regular exercise and sleep, etc. (A healthy diet does seem to improve male fertility.)

Also, remember there's no necessary connection between improving fertility and increasing the likely health of the child.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:55 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think your plan to eat healthy, avoid booze and take a multivitamin are good. With your partner, get in the habit of regular daily exercise. A 20 minute walk after dinner every night would be good for you both and is something you can do through pregnancy and then with baby.

You should both stay hydrated and come up with healthy snacks. What's good for the goose and all that....

Best of luck!
posted by amanda at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2012

Response by poster: I did see a couple articles referencing a 2008 study supporting men also taking folic acid during the lead up to conception as having a meaningful benefit in avoiding some sperm problems:
Reuters article

Thanks everyone, super helpful info, please keep it coming (so to speak).
posted by unclezeb at 11:37 AM on June 29, 2012

Response by poster: Support for vitamin D here but apparently it's more about "motility" (ability of sperm to move toward the egg the way they're supposed to) than the qualities of the sperm. That being said, apparently "motility" and "quality" are used interchangeably as the most common concern is sperm's ability to fertilize successfully (i.e., their ability to get to the egg).

Makes me wonder if the "quality" I'm talking about is moot, 23 chromosomes are all there is and getting to the egg is all that matters ... ideas?
posted by unclezeb at 11:49 AM on June 29, 2012

You might want to look into a good quality fish oil. The research doesn't appear to be conclusive but it may help motility and is likely a good thing for your overall health.
posted by samhyland at 11:54 AM on June 29, 2012

According to fertility specialist Paul Turek, the answer is: none.

The motility of your sperm doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the packet of genetic information inside it. As a father, your contribution (at this stage!) is that genetic info. Period.

This is definitely a problem you might come back to if you do have fertility troubles, but is not a problem right now.
posted by purpleclover at 12:40 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Exercise and eat healthy, vegetables and shit. My count went through the roof while training for my last half marathon.
posted by chundo at 12:45 PM on June 29, 2012

I was actually given a few boxes of the freebie prenatal vitamins the doc would give the ladies. Pretty sure that was to make sure I took a vitamin, and the extra folic acid. Can't tell you if it made a difference tho.
posted by pupdog at 3:27 PM on June 29, 2012

Can't help with vitamins for dad, but there is one thing that'll help your little swimmers' success rate: wear boxers, not briefs. (Basically a bit more, ummm, freedom and 'air conditioning' will improve things over the slightly-warmer/tucked-in-to-the-body situation in briefs.)
posted by easily confused at 5:14 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Zinc! Zinc & Folate.

And there are a bunch of studies:

Also, cite for:
"The motility of your sperm doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the packet of genetic information inside it. As a father, your contribution (at this stage!) is that genetic info. Period."?
I'm pretty sure we don't have enough evidence either way, but babies from IVF are more likely to have birth defects (not meaning to freak anyone out doing IVF), and it's not yet possible to separate out the possible effect of faulty sperm from that.

Oh, and this is interesting:
posted by Elysum at 2:26 AM on June 30, 2012

Best answer: Elysium, you're right. Good callout.

My earlier answer was flip. But:
- The OP is already taking zinc
- The OP is probably fertile (most men are; zinc/folate didn't improve things for fertile men)
-If a pregnancy is achieved, supplements taken beforehand won't make it a better pregnancy.

However, you're right, and I said something simplistic and false in an attempt to make a larger point: Motility and quality of genetic info are connected. Sperm with poor motility are more likely to have genetic errors; age diminishes both motility and quality. (On the other hand, in this animal study, freezing sperm resulted in preservation of DNA despite limiting motility.)

My point really is that what happens in a woman's body during pregnancy (neural tubes are being formed! The skeleton is assembled! Legs and arms and faces are all being built!) is not at all equivalent to the male contribution, which is why we have an emphasis on pregnancy supplements for women, while men get the old ho-hum.
posted by purpleclover at 7:17 AM on June 30, 2012

Avoid lots of additives, in case they affect your lovely genes. Take a multivitamin when your beloved takes hers; it's nice to be in it together.
posted by theora55 at 10:24 AM on June 30, 2012

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