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Foods That Can Increase Sperm Count

by Dr. Michael Guarnaccia, Oma Fertility NYC
 • 8 min read
Healthy Food

Diet and health go hand in hand, so it should be no surprise that certain foods can help improve male fertility. Using food to increase sperm count isn't a foolproof solution, but adding in the right foods and supplements could help improve chances and even overall health.  One note of caution before we dive in: While following a healthy diet can improve overall health and sperm health, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to improving sperm count. In addition to eating healthier and taking the right supplements, work with your fertility specialist to develop the right plan for you. This might include intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), or IVF with a sperm donor. H2: Foods & Supplements That Increase Sperm Count

When combating signs of low sperm count, try incorporating some of these foods into your daily diet. 

Beef

Meat lovers will appreciate the excuse to add more beef to their diet each week. This red meat is full of zinc, which can help increase testosterone and sperm production. When men are extremely deficient in this trace mineral, it can lead to fertility issues. 

Other fertility-boosting nutrients found in beef include vitamin B12, selenium, and carnitine. 

Both selenium and carnitine help with sperm maturation and motility, while there are also studies that link increased B12 with increased sperm count and concentration.

When adding beef to your diet, focus on high-quality products. Also eat beef in moderation, with proportional sizes relevant to the rest of your meal. 

Nutrients in 1 lb. beef

Amount

% Daily Value

Zinc

22.4 mg

72%

Selenium

133.3 mcg

192%

B12

6.4 mcg

56%

Carnitine

432 mg

n/a

Salmon

Studies reveal that fatty fish like salmon may result in higher sperm counts in men, particularly when compared to men who eat processed meat. What's in salmon that makes it so beneficial for male infertility? 

The main reason is a plethora of omega-3s, which contributes to better motility, mobility, and sperm count. Salmon is also high in vitamin B12, which we've already established helps with sperm count and concentration.

Nutrients in ½ Filet Salmon

Amount

% Daily Value

Omega-3s

3996 mg

n/a

B12

6.3 mcg

105%

Oysters

Oysters are another type of food that’s likely to increase sperm count thanks to a broad range of nutrients. Not only are they chock full of zinc and B12, the percentage of daily value present in just half a dozen oysters is among the highest of all the foods on our list. 

Vitamin D is also present in oysters, which has been shown in some studies to be positively linked to better fertility and higher testosterone levels. Finally, oysters contain selenium, which also improves the chance of successful conception.

Nutrients in 6 oysters

Amount

% Daily Value

Zinc

76.3 mg

509%

B12

16.3 mcg

272%

Vitamin D

269 IU

67%

Selenium

53.5 mcg

76%

Brazil Nuts and Walnuts

Like some of the other foods on our list, nuts such as walnuts and Brazil nuts can also have positive impacts on sperm count and testosterone levels. These nuts are rich in omega-3s and contain some selenium. On top of that, they're packed with vitamin E and magnesium. 

Magnesium is linked to a major increase in sperm production, while vitamin E increases motility and protects the sperm's cell membrane. One study showed that men who added just a handful of nuts to their diet each day improved sperm count by 14% compared to those who did not eat nuts. 

Nutrients in 1 oz. of Walnuts

Amount

% Daily Value

Omega-3s

2.5 g

n/a

Vitamin e

6 mg

40%

Magnesium

44.8%

14%

Dark, Leafy Greens

Men may experience improved fertility by increasing their intake of dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale. They're full of folate, which helps with sperm production while also reducing the risk of birth defects. Folic acid has also been shown to increase testosterone and luteinizing hormones, another contributor to healthy sperm production.

Vitamin E and magnesium are also present in greens like spinach. And it's full of other vitamins and nutrients that contribute to better health, like Vitamin A, fiber, iron, and potassium.

Nutrients in 100 g of spinach

Amount

% Daily Value

Folate

58 mcg

15%

Vitamin E

0.6 mg

3%

Magnesium

24 mg

6%

Dark Chocolate

Cacao is full of antioxidants as well as the enzyme called L-Arginine, which can boost sperm count. You don't need to stuff yourself full of dark chocolate every day. Instead, eat it regularly in small quantities along with other nutrient-dense foods to potentially improve fertility outcomes.

Supplements to Increase Sperm Count 

In addition to expanding your diet to include sperm-friendly foods, consider these supplements, which can also help increase sperm count.

Vitamin B12

To ensure a consistent intake of vitamin B12, consider taking a daily supplement. It comes with the potential to help male fertility in a number of ways, including increased sperm count, improved motility, and lower DNA damage to sperm. Side effects are rare and your doctor can help determine the best daily dosage for you based on your health profile. 

Vitamin D

Some studies indicate the potential correlation between vitamin D intake and improved male fertility, primarily through increased hormone production and better sperm motility. The research isn't completely conclusive yet, but there are lots of broader health benefits to taking vitamin D as well (like increased immunity) that could make this supplement worth it. 

Garlic

For those who enjoy the flavor of garlic, it's good to know that this superfood also contains many nutrients vital to men's fertility health. The downside is that you'll need to consume quite a bit in order to max out the benefits, so it may be best as a supplement rather than ingested with meals on a daily basis. 

Maca Root

Also called Peruvian ginseng, maca root has been shown to improve sex drive, sperm count, and motility while also reducing stress levels. Interestingly, it's still unknown what this herb contains that helps to normalize hormones, but studies are promising. Recommended dosage is 1,000 to 3,000 mg per day. It can be taken as a pill, tincture, or powder in smoothies. 

Foods to Avoid That Will Decrease Sperm Count

Improving fertility isn't just about adding to your diet; it's also about eliminating certain foods that aren't helping. Here are some of the top culprits for men.

Junk Food

Men in Western nations have experienced a severe plunge in sperm counts, which correlates to a cultural change in diet as well. 

Studies have discovered a link between junk food and lower sperm counts. It's worth swapping out processed foods for whole food options in order to improve your fertility and overall health.

Soy Products

Soy is full of phytoestrogen, so if you regularly eat this vegetarian-friendly protein, you may be damaging your testosterone levels and lowering your sperm concentration levels. This hypothesis is supported by a Boston study that revealed men with a high intake of soy had less sperm concentration compared to their counterparts who did not eat soy products. 

Alcohol  

Heavy alcohol use can lead to a number of male fertility issues, including testicular atrophy, lower testosterone levels, and decreased sperm production. In the study, heavy drinking was defined as binge drinking five or more days in one month.

If you’re a smoker—even if you only smoke when you drink—now’s a great time to quit. Studies find that smoking has significant negative effects on sperm quality and count, but quitting may reverse those effects. 

Full-Fat Dairy

Some people may wonder, “Does milk increase sperm count?” But some research actually points to the opposite, especially when it comes to full-fat dairy. Milk is full of estrogen, and studies show that ingesting lots of dairy can lower testosterone levels in men.

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2022 12:00 AM