When considering starting a family, many men become more conscious of their health. Some couples try to improve their health before trying for a baby. They might switch to a healthier diet, increase their exercise and focus on maintaining a healthy weight. Some men take prenatal vitamins to help things along.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend women consume 4,000 mcg of folic acid each day for one month before becoming pregnant and through the first three months of pregnancy. Women start taking prenatal vitamins when they find out they’re pregnant; many begin taking them sooner.
If your partner is starting to take a daily vitamin containing folic acid, you might wonder whether you should take a daily supplement, too.
Keep reading to find out whether men should be taking daily vitamins while trying to conceive.
What are prenatal vitamins for men?
Male prenatal vitamins are designed to aid male fertility, improve sperm quality and ensure good reproductive health when trying to conceive. Unlike prenatal vitamins specifically designed for women, prenatal vitamins for men are not intended to be taken for the duration of the pregnancy.
When it comes to male health, the important work is done before conception.
Should men take prenatal vitamins?
Yes, men should take prenatal vitamins before conceiving a child. Thanks to science, we now know that male reproductive health plays a vital role in the time it takes to conceive. Men should take male fertility vitamin supplements to make sure they are as healthy as they can be when it’s time to have a baby.
Men shouldn’t take traditional prenatal vitamins formulated for women, however, as they don’t contain the right mix of vitamins and minerals to improve semen quality, protect sperm and improve sperm fertility. Prenatal vitamins for women often contain iron, which can cause digestive problems and is best avoided unless needed.
When should I start taking a men’s prenatal vitamin?
Men should begin taking prenatal or fertility vitamins as soon as they decide to start trying for a baby. Ideally, you should start taking prenatal vitamins a few months before trying to conceive. The sooner you start taking male fertility supplements, the longer they will have to work.
It is thought to take about 74 days to create sperm from start to finish. That means your health at 74 days before conception plays a vital role in sperm health. In an ideal world, you would start taking supplements to support male fertility at least 74 days before conception.
The timing won’t always work out, but it’s worth taking supplements when you plan to start a family.
Ingredients to look for in men’s prenatal vitamins
Not all supplements are created equal, so pay close attention to the vitamins and minerals in your supplements. Not only do you want your supplements to contain the right ingredients, but you also want to make sure they contain the right dosage of each ingredient.
The following 5 ingredients are often found in prenatal vitamins specifically aimed at men:
A 2020 study published in Reproduction & Fertility found that L-carnitine supplementation improves sperm motility and morphology; however, it did not increase the chances of a natural conception.
According to a 2019 study, CoQ10 supplementation improved semen parameters and antioxidant status in men with idiopathic OAT, with a greater improvement shown in men who took 400 mg per day than in those who took 200 mg per day.
#3. Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to fertility problems. Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common, so it’s crucial to make sure you get enough of this important vitamin. A 2017 study found that ‘Vitamin D supplementation improves sperm motility in idiopathic male infertility patients with low vitamin D’.
#4. Folate or folic acid for men
A 2008 study from the Netherlands found that ‘a low folate concentration in seminal plasma is associated with more sperm DNA damage in fertile men’. Sperm DNA damage is associated with male infertility.
#5. Vitamin E and selenium
A 2003 study confirmed ‘the protective and beneficial effects of vitamin E and selenium on semen quality and advocate their use in male infertility treatment’.
The scientific evidence for prenatal vitamins for men is patchy. Although some supplements are thought to help, it is often only true in cases of poor sperm health.
One important thing to remember is that you probably don’t know the general health of your sperm production system before you try for a baby. You won’t know whether you have a low sperm count, sperm DNA damage or poor sperm quality. That means you can’t say for sure that taking male fertility vitamins won’t help and, therefore, it might be worth trying.
When to stop taking prenatal vitamins for men
You can stop taking prenatal vitamins for men once your baby has been conceived. That doesn’t mean you should abandon your health kick, however; it’s essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the duration of the pregnancy.
Although this might sound silly, your health can affect your baby’s health even after conception. How? By improving your partner’s health during pregnancy. Yes, your support can actually make a big difference to your pregnant partner’s health. Your support can play a vital role in achieving a healthy pregnancy.
Consider the time you spend with your partner. Whether you spend it taking walks in the country or cooped up at home on the sofa, it will affect your partner’s health. If you spend time eating healthy fresh foods, your partner is likely to eat better than if you spend the whole nine months ordering greasy takeaways.
Your support is invaluable right now, so make sure you’re eating a healthy diet for your baby.
To learn more, read BellyBelly’s article Does Dad’s Diet Affect The Growing Baby In Utero?
Alternative to prenatal vitamins for men
Living a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet should be enough to encourage good health. Your lifestyle affects your sperm health, so improve your lifestyle before you try for a baby.
Here are some steps you can take to improve your health:
- Stop smoking
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of daily exercise
- Eat a healthy diet rich in fresh veggies, greens and fruit
- Manage your stress levels
- Get enough sleep.
In summary, you should aim to take care of yourself as well as you take care of your pregnant partner. Cook healthy, balanced meals, go to bed early and get plenty of exercise.
Taking steps to improve your lifestyle now will bring significant benefits, especially as you embark upon parenthood. Being a parent is a tiring yet rewarding job, so make sure you have good health and plenty of energy to see you through.