Nutrition in male fertility

The dietitians at The Lister Hospital looks at how food and nutrition can affect fertility in men

Nutrition for male fertility oily fish 173657085.jpg

Understanding your nutritional needs

Meeting your individual requirements is one of the key factors for most nutrition consultations. At the initial consultation your nutritionist will ensure we confirm your requirements based on your age, gender, health conditions, weight goals and activity levels.

We have shared some examples of nutrients to think about below, these could also be the key nutrients in your diet and will be considered in more detail during your consultation, however the quantities will differ for each individual.

Moving towards ideal weight goals is equally important for men as well to optimise fertility by improving sperm quality. Furthermore, if during a consultation we identify clinical signs of a deficiency or malabsorption, the nutrition requirements will be defined further.

Nutrients for improving male fertility

Whole Grains

Rather than a low carbohydrate diet, a diet rich in low glycaemic index carbohydrates or good carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables improve male fertility as they are rich in important nutrients such as antioxidants and fibre. 

Fruit and Veg

You need to ensure you have at least 5-7 fruits and vegetables per day.

Antioxidants: A recent scientific review revealed that antioxidants cause significant improvements in DNA damage and oxidative stressors, in men with reduced sperm motility. Oxidative stress can result in sperm protein, lipid, and DNA damage and sperm dysfunction. In 2015, a Cochrane Systematic Review, including 34 studies, determined that men who take antioxidant supplements had a significant increase in live birth rate and pregnancy rate when compared to the control groups. 


Dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach and dried legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are naturally good sources of folate. Experts have now considered all of this evidence and have recommended that the UK should fortify flour with folic acid. 


Selenium is a mineral that works as an antioxidant in the body. It can help to keep tissues healthy by preventing cell damage. Selenium helps keep your immune system and thyroid working well. Selenium may help protect against the development of some types of cancers and certain chronic diseases but this is still being studied.

Please be aware - The upper limit is 400 mcg/day if you were to have it as a supplement. 

If you choose to get it from whole foods most common sources are nuts especially brazil nut, dairy, fish, poultry, meat, whole grains and lentils. Having a handful of Brazil nuts every few days is an easier way to get the requirement of selenium in comparison to having supplements that may lead to toxicity when overdone. 


Lycopene is a non-provitamin A carotenoid that is responsible for the red to pink colours seen in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and other foods. Processed tomato products are the primary dietary lycopene source. Lycopene has a strong antioxidant potential which influences improvement in sperm motility. Lycopene becomes highly available when tomato is processed so canned, bottled and juice of tomato are dense sources. 

These foods are an addition to the healthy eating guidelines, unless a balanced diet is followed with adequate energy, protein, fluid the remaining aspects will not be as efficient. For instance if we do not include carbs at all in our diet, the protein is not used for protein function rather is used up to provide energy. Which will lead to burdening the kidney to digest the protein that wont be available either. 

Nutrition services at The Lister Hospital

Working across different specialties the Nutrition team at The Lister Hospital, can help support and advise you of dietary needs as an outpatient or whilst you are receiving treatment in hospital. 

Within the team they have specialist dietitians in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Fertility & Reproductive System nutrition amongst a range of other areas. 

If you would like to make an appointment with the team about your fertility nutrition, you can call us on 0207 881 2042 or email

More about The Lister Hospital