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7 November 2005
Sperm Concentration Boosted With Zinc, Folic Acid
by George Atkinson

Men who are subfertile may want to consider taking a course of folic acid and zinc sulphate to increase their chances of fathering a child. It seems that these dietary supplements can boost sperm concentration, says a study in the International Journal of Andrology.

The Netherlands based researchers analyzed the sperm of both fertile and subfertile men, some who received a course of folic acid (5 mg/day) and zinc sulphate (66 mg/day), and others who received placebo. The researchers also recorded levels of the hormones testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and inhibin B in all the men.

The researchers found that the folic acid and zinc sulphate course of treatment significantly increased the sperm concentration in the subfertile men. In addition, they noted that other semen and hormonal parameters were not affected by the supplement treatment.

However, the researchers say the reasons behind why these two supplements increase sperm concentrations are not immediately obvious. "We conclude that the increase in sperm concentration after folic acid and zinc sulphate intervention is not the result of alterations in FSH, testosterone or inhibin B concentrations. Although zinc and folate have several effects on spermatogenesis, the underlying mechanisms involved are not clear," they said.

While the reasons behind the change in sperm concentration remain something of a mystery, the results should be of interest to men who are trying to conceive with less than optimal sperm parameters. The study was carried out over a 26 week period so it may be that subfertile men should consider a course of dietary supplements over a similar period to boost their chances of becoming a father.

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