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Low Folate Levels Harm Sperm
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Last Updated November 15, 2011, last updated January 7, 2015
By Editors, MangoBoss

Most women know that folate should be taken to prevent birth
defects when they are trying to conceive. But now research
has shown that men, too, need to watch their folate levels. It
turns out that low folate levels may actually harm sperm.

new study on the effect of folate on sperm has been
released by the National Institutes of Health on March 20,
2008.  Folate is one of the B vitamins and is found in leafy
green vegetables, fruit and beans, chickpeas and lentils. Folate
is also known as Vitamin B-9. By law, breads and grains sold
in the United States are also now specially fortified with added
folate to help ward off birth defects.

Spinach has about 194 micrograms of folate for every 100
gram serving (about 1/2 cup of cooked spinach), which is
about half of the daily recommended value. A cup of broccoli
will give yo about 24% of the folate you need each day.

The highlights of the findings are that

  • The researchers found that men who had the highest
    intake of folate had the lowest incidence of sperm
    abnormalities. In fact, men who had the highest intake of
    folate -- 722 to 1,150 micrograms a day -- had a 20
    percent to 30 percent lower frequency of several types of
    sperm abnormalities, compared with men who consumed
    less folate.

Article Continues Below

  • Up till now, birth-defect researchers have typically
    focused on women's diet in the period around
    conception, Eskenazi said. "Based on these data, maybe
    men, too, need to consider their diet when they are
    considering fathering a child," she said.

  • Although this study doesn't conclusively prove a link
    between folate and chromosomal abnormality, the study
    advises men who are thinking of becoming fathers to
    increase their folate intake, perhaps with a supplement or
    a multivitamin containing folate.

This isn't the first study to find a link between diet and sperm
health. A report published last year in Human Reproduction
found that women who ate beef 7 or more times per week
tended to produce sons with lowered sperm counts, perhaps
due to the effects of hormones or pesticides on developing

One expert agrees that healthy eating is linked to having
healthy babies -- even for men.


One Big Caveat--Folate Does Not Help Men with Prostate

Even though folate appears to have a positive effect on the
quality of a man's sperm, it should not necessarily be taken as
a supplement by men who have
prostate cancer.

In fact, starving your body of folate may help to slow down
the progression of prostate cancer, according to a 2011 study
from researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in
Buffalo, New York.

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Dark, leafy greens such as
spinach are high in folate.

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