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20th Nov 2023

Understanding Nutrients for Improved Sperm Quality

Posted by Melanie Winter

The WHO recognises that infertility is a problem that affects 15% of the world’s population, and understanding its causes has become increasingly crucial. Recent research highlights the importance of nutrition in male fertility, particularly in enhancing sperm health. From various scientific studies, specific nutrients like zinc, vitamin E, selenium, omega 3 fatty acids and (coenzyme Q10) CoQ10 have emerged as potential game-changers in promoting optimal sperm quality. This blog aims to explore the impact of these nutrients on sperm health, offering insights into how they contribute to male reproductive wellness.

Sperm health 101

Sperm Count: In essence, sperm count refers to the total number of sperm cells present in the entire ejaculate or a specific volume of semen, measured typically in millions per millilitre, representing the overall sperm quantity.

Sperm Motility: Sperm motility is the ability of sperm cells to move effectively. It assesses the percentage of sperm cells that exhibit proper movement (swimming ability) in a semen sample, crucial for their ability to reach and fertilize an egg.

Sperm Morphology: This refers to the shape and structure of sperm cells. It evaluates the percentage of sperm cells in a semen sample that have a normal shape, as abnormalities in morphology can impact fertility and the ability to fertilize an egg.

Sperm Density: Sperm density is similar to sperm count, indicating the concentration or density of sperm cells within a specific volume of semen, usually measured in millions of sperm cells per millilitre, providing an assessment of sperm quantity in a given sample.

What the reviews tell us

A large-scale review published in 2018, which analysed 28 high-quality articles found:

  • Total sperm concentration was increased by selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and CoQ10.
  • Sperm counts were increased by omega 3 and CoQ10.
  • Sperm total motility was increased by selenium, zinc, omega 3, CoQ10, and carnitine.
  • Sperm morphology was enhanced by selenium, omega 3, CoQ10, and carnitine.

Male factors, which include decreased semen quality, are responsible for about 25% of the cases of infertility that affect 15% of all couples of reproductive ages.

Another review published in 2017 that looked at 35 studies found the following:

  • Eating nutritious foods with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins (E, C, D, folate), and antioxidants (β-carotene, selenium, zinc, cryptoxanthin, lycopene) is linked to better semen quality.
  • Avoiding saturated and trans fats is also essential for reproductive health.

A more recent evidence review published in 2022 also found anti-inflammatory diets were important for both male and female fertility and affected sperm quality:

  • Eating a Mediterranean-style diet- with increased monounsaturated fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts), omega 3 polyunsaturated fats (fish), flavonoids (fruit, vegetables, wine, tea) and reduced intake of red and processed meat, improve sperm quality in men.

Let’s take a deep dive into the individual nutrients.


Studies have shown that 200 mg of ubiquinol a day for 6 months (the active reduced form of CoQ10):

  • Increased sperm density (how much sperm per ejaculate) by 81.6%
  • Increased sperm motility (ability to swim) by 31.7%
  • Increased sperm morphology (correct shape of each one) by 24%

Omega 3 and sperm health

A randomised control study of 211 men with low sperm count found that 1.8g of combined EPA/DHA from Omega 3 taken over 32 weeks increased sperm parameters compared to the placebo group:

  • Sperm cells count increased by 59%
  • Sperm cell concentration increased by 83%

Vitamin E

Individual studies on vitamin E aren’t as robust as other nutrients and sperm health, and some of the studies are with vitamin E in combination with other ingredients. However, it is thought that vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals, which can cause cellular damage, including sperm cells. By reducing oxidative stress, Vitamin E may protect sperm cells from damage, thus potentially improving sperm health.


Selenium is listed in FSANZ ( Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) as being necessary for normal sperm production. Selenium is also required for normal sperm maturation and sperm motility.


A review of twenty articles looked at how giving infertile men extra zinc helped their sperm. Our findings showed that taking zinc improved the amount of sperm, how well they moved, and the number of normal-shaped sperm. Overall, after taking zinc, infertile men had better sperm quality.

  • Increased semen volume
  • Increased sperm motility
  • Increased normal morphology

Key takeaways

  • Diet and lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol intake and exercise should be addressed for sperm health first.
  • A Mediterranean diet may specifically improve sperm health.
  • Specific nutrients to support sperm health include zinc, vitamin E, selenium, omega 3 fatty acids and CoQ10 as Ubiquinol

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