The Dad's Preconception DietKatlyn Joy | 9, February 2011
It's common knowledge that a mother's diet has an important role in the health of her unborn child, but not so many people realize how important a father's diet can be as well. Poor eating habits can lower sperm quality and production.
A study published in Nature found that in mice, father's who had high fat diets had an increased risk of having offspring who develop diabetes. Obese fathers with diabetes all had children with diabetes. Researchers theorize that a high-fat diet changes DNA signals regarding metabolism and glucose regulation. That genetic alteration is passed on to children through the sperm. Those inherited genetic changes lead to predisposition to diabetes.
While fathers who are obese or who have poorly controlled diabetes have difficulty conceiving, it seems a significant risk that they may impact their children's future health. It's in everyone's best interest for dads-to be to watch their health and keep their weight in healthy range.
Other dietary factors that fathers-to-be should look at include limiting or cutting back on alcohol. Even two drinks a day in the month prior to conception has been linked to a significant reduction in baby's birth weight. It's probably fine to have an occasional drink, but those who are trying to conceive should be aware that alcohol does affect sperm. Overindulging can have a negative impact on fertility as it lowers testosterone levels and increases the amount of abnormal sperm.
Moms have been advised on the importance of folic acid prior to conception and during pregnancy, but this nutrient is important in fathers' diets as well. Men should aim for 400 micrograms daily, and can find sources in foods such as leafy green vegetables, orange juice, legumes and healthy breakfast cereals.
Vitamin C is another key player in a dad's preconception diet. You should get 90 milligrams daily but smokers need more like 125 mgs. You can get this through oranges, orange juice, strawberries, grapefruit juice, broccoli and tomatoes.
Zinc is also important for a father's preconception diet as it aids in the development of sperm, protects the genetic material in sperm and lengthens sperm life span. Men should get 12-15 milligrams of zinc daily, from foods such as oysters, other seafood, meats, eggs, dairy, and beans.
Calcium from foods like yogurt, cheeses, milk and vitamin D from milk and salmon are also important diet items for preconception. Aim for 1,000 mgs. Of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D.
Vitamin E helps protect the sperm from damage and so aids in male fertility. Get this vitamin through intake of leafy greens, vegetable oil and nuts.
Selenium is a partner with vitamin E to protect sperm, and is found in foods like mushrooms, garlic, onion, meats, seafood and Brazil nuts.
While it's best to get most your vitamins and nutrients from a variety of healthy foods, taking a multivitamin isn't a bad idea, either. However, men should not take a daily vitamin pill that contains iron, since it can hurt sperm production.
Another crucial element for sperm production is staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water, as well as juices or milk if water is not a favorite beverage, can make a big difference in male fertility since dehydration lowers sperm counts.
Besides boosting a man's fertility, a healthy diet also may produce healthier children, and will help fathers live longer, and healthier lives so they will be around to raise and enjoy their children.
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