When people hear the term “folic acid”, they mostly assume that only women and especially pregnant women are the ones who will highly benefit from it. But, do you know that folic acid is immensely significant for men, especially for those who want children?
In this article series, we will discuss the significance of folic acid in men’s health, the effects of folic acid in men’s fertility, and the importance for men to become healthy as well in producing healthy babies.
What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid or folate is well-known as an essential vitamin for the production of red blood cells and it also prevents neural tube defects like spina bifida, while its ability to lower homocysteine suggests it might have a positive influence on cardiovascular disease.
Folic acid has been documented to improve endothelium-dependent vasodilation in men with hypertension, congestive heart failure, diabetes mellitus type 2, hyperhomocysteinemia, and peripheral vascular disease. Indeed, taking folic acid as a food supplement has enormous benefits for our health.
It can also increase tissue concentrations of DHA or docosahexaenoic acid that is an essential omega-3 fatty acid that may protect against disorders of emotional regulation and cardiovascular disease. For older men, taking folic acid with other B vitamins is a great way to support brain function and enhance the nervous system. It is useful in improving memory and brain cognition.
This type of B vitamin has a significant role in maintaining good health, a possibility of extending beyond these clinical conditions to encompass other birth defects, several types of cancer, dementia, affective disorders, Down’s syndrome, and serious conditions affecting pregnancy outcome.
The Significance of Folic Acid in Men’s Health
There were studies conducted about mild zinc deficiency in men. During the studies, the effects of folic acid supplements on zinc excretion patterns were seen. Eight men were fed diets containing 150 µg of folacin (by analysis) per day. Four of the men were supplemented with 400 µg of pteroylglutamic acid (folic acid) every other day.
All of the men were fed diets containing about 3.5 mg/Zinc per day which were supplemented with 4.0 mg/Zn day for 4 wk and unsupplemented for 16 wk, then supplemented with 30.0 mg/Zn day for 4 wk. Their body weights were kept constant by adjustments of energy intakes and expenditures. This study indicates that supplemental folate influences zinc homeostasis, perhaps through the formation of an insoluble chelate and impairment of absorption.
According to the Physicians’ Health Study, men with low blood levels of folic acid and B6 tend to have an increased risk of heart attacks. On the other hand, the Health Professionals Study discovered that high consumption of folic acid and B6 can help in the reduction of heart attack by 29% and 23% respectively.
There are also proven facts that folic acid may also reduce the risk of colon cancer and bladder cancer. In 1995, the Health Professionals Study found that a high intake of folic acid reduced the risk of colon cancer in men who drank alcohol.
Meanwhile, in 1998, the Nurses’ Health Study found that long-term use of multivitamins containing folic acid was linked with a substantial reduction in colon cancer.
Depression is one of the most common symptoms of a folic acid deficiency. Regarding mental health for men, studies concluded that men who get 234 micrograms of folate for every 1,000 calories they eat are half as likely to become depressed in contrast to men who only get 119 micrograms. Eating foods rich in folic acid like lentil soup is a great way to counteract depression.
Thus, eating lots of vitamin-rich cruciferous or cabbage family vegetables, some foods containing egg yolk, whole grains, and nuts are beneficial for having folic acid. For taking up multivitamins and supplements, the good news is that you don’t need to take megadoses of several vitamins to acquire the benefits but you just need 400 micrograms of folic acid and 3 mg of B6 which seem to be optimal.
Effects of Folic Acid in Men’s Fertility
As a water-soluble B Vitamin, folic acid has roles in DNA synthesis, repair, and methylation, and is an essential cofactor. It is necessary for normal spermatogenesis and may function as an indirect antioxidant through the creation of methyl donor compounds.
Based on some investigative studies, the levels of folic acid have been connected with sperm characteristics, including chromosomal aneuploidy and total sperm concentration, with low levels correlating with infertility. Some researchers and scientists compared folic acid, zinc, folic acid + zinc, or placebo among men of mixed fertility.
The results revealed a 74% increase in total sperm count and improved morphology in the combination group. They confirmed enhanced sperm concentrations among patients supplemented with folic acid and zinc compared to controls.
There’s also another interesting study about the capability of folic acid to boost sperm count. The article said that researchers found out that total folic acid intake is related to a statistical reduction in the frequency of sperm abnormalities in healthy males.
Although we are now informed about the advantages of taking the folic acid supplements for men, we should learn about the factors that may affect the fertility of men such as calcium or a type of blood pressure medication that can interfere with the sperm’s ability to penetrate the egg, spironolactone which impair the production of testosterone and sperm and other antibiotics like tetracycline and gentamicin that hugely affect normal sperm development.
Why do Men Also Need To Be Healthy To Produce Healthy Babies
It is not just always women who are necessary to become healthy in order to produce healthy babies. Men also have an important part in the preconception and childbearing process. Human fertility is an extremely complex matter so both men and women need to take into account every aspect of their needs such as their diet and lifestyle, medical history, current stress level, and any environmental and occupational hazards.
Research shows that everything you do in the three or four months before trying to conceive is as important as the sex itself. The good thing here is that you can control the factors involved in infertility.
In order for you to prepare for a three-month period of preconception care, here are the factors that are important to consider and you need to be aware of as they are linked in conceiving babies:
- Caffeine – There is a study that found about caffeine consumption is connected to miscarriage. When either men or women drank three or more cups a day of caffeinated drinks before pregnancy including sodas, energy drinks, or coffee, the woman has twice the chance of having a miscarriage.
- Alcohol – Heavy drinking does impair sexual performance and damages sperm quality, such as motility (movement) and shape. Numerous studies from 1976 until now have shown that heavier alcohol consumption reduces the level of circulating testosterone and lowers the sperm count and quality, important for their capability of penetrating the egg. It is strongly recommended for men to cap their alcohol consumption at two or fewer drinks per day, specifically for the 3-4 months leading up to conception through the 13th week of pregnancy.
- Cocaine – It is the common cause of many cases of strokes and heart attacks in men. It can greatly affect a man’s ability to have an erection and ejaculate and may reduce his libido, which obviously makes it difficult to conceive. There is also a risk for certain birth defects in their offspring.
- Smoking – Studies from some countries in Asia and Europe have identified an approximately 30% increase in the rate of childhood cancers and up to 80% rate of leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors under the age of five when fathers smoke during the preconception period, even though mothers were non-smokers. So, the passive smoke exposure of mothers during their time of conception is connected with a significantly higher possibility of serious congenital heart defects in babies.
- Diet – There’s a research study about a certain epigenetic signature in the sperm of obese men that altered as they lose weight. The researchers revealed that the changes were notably at gene regions implicated in the central control of appetite. Some studies have shown that a high-fat diet developed impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, which are related to diabetes. Prospective fathers are recommended to avoid over-eating and they must eat a balanced diet.
- Stress – Too much stress and fatigue often depletes a person’s libido by affecting his hormones and mood which may interfere with his close relationship with his wife. Eventually, they can damage the immune system, the heart and deteriorate both physical and mental well-being, increasing your chances of having serious health problems. Studies have shown that fathers who experienced severe stress and burnout decrease their chances of producing healthy babies.
- Work environment – Working fathers who are greatly exposed to chemicals and solvents in their workplaces will tend to have higher rates of birth defects in their offspring. It is recommended to avoid jobs that involve lead, oil-based paints, or paint products that contain ethylene glycols or hydrocarbon solvents, exposure to carbon monoxide, and gases such as sulfur, chlorine, nitrogen, and fluorine, and many more harmful substances.
Some Ways for Men to Become Stronger Physically and Maintain their Overall Health
Moreover, sperm quality and quantity can be affected by the aforementioned factors which show that men can actually have control over their fertility. Indeed, studies have shown that performing simple changes to boost their fertility rate can improve sperm quality and quantity in just three months.
Even though the woman only has the capability of childbearing, never forget the fact that conceiving a child takes two. For men, it also takes at least three months for a new batch of sperm cells to mature, ready to be ejaculated. Thus, with the help of enhancing lifestyle quality and nutritional changes, men can boost their fertility rate.
Based on the book “Boost Your Fertility” by Marilyn Glenville, several European doctors concluded in their research study that a good three-month program of healthy living and eating will maximize your chances of conception now or in the future. Meanwhile, according to psychologists, you need at least three months to replace dietary and lifestyle habits with healthier ones.
Hence, we gather some information about some useful ways to help men become stronger physically and maintain their overall good health:
- Eating a balanced, nutritious, and especially fertility-boosting diet such as foods rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and oily fish, including foods rich in vitamin A, B, C, and E, zinc, selenium, and essential fatty acids. Go on organic foods.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day and stay hydrated at all times.
- Take food supplements such as Vitamins C and minerals like zinc and folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. Zinc is necessary for the production of sperm. Vitamin C is proven to reduce the tendency of sperm to clump together or agglutination which causes infertility. Folic acid is essential to protect both the female’s egg and male’s sperm, and their genetic material.
- Perform 20-40 mins. daily exercise to boost your strength and immune system.
- Take your time to relax and avoid having excessive caffeine, alcohol, and many more.
Along with other vitamins and minerals, taking up folic acid as a food supplement is necessary to boost your immune system and protect your cells against free radicals which are molecules that cause the aging process and can lead to cancer. If you think you’re anemic, level up your intake of iron, folic acid, and vitamins B12 and C.
If you want to have a child, experts said that taking folic acid is important to improve your fertility rate. Therefore, try our Belta Folic Acid Supplement for Men which is composed of 400 mcg of folic acid and loads of vitamins and minerals with other essential components.