Natural fertility isn’t just about getting the woman healthy. Up to 30% of couples that struggle with infertility do so because of male factor, and another 30% have combined issues. So nutrition is equally important in men – their bodies must be nourished with the correct nutrients to support sperm production as well as the quality of the sperm. Using vitamin C for fertility can have a positive effect on the health of the couple; higher progesterone levels for her, healthier sperm for him.
Using Vitamin C for male factor infertility
One University of Texas study has shown that increasing the daily amount of Vitamin C in men helps them produce more sperm, stronger sperm, and more mobile sperm. Sometimes the sperm count rose over ten times when men started ingesting the healthy amount of vitamin C.
Another small study about vitamin C and fertility, done in Kentucky in 2006, showed that twice daily supplementation of 1000 mg for a maximum of 2 months increased the count and motility, demonstrating the significance of vitamin C for male infertility.
Basically, it’s thought that because vitamin C is an antioxidant, it helps to protect the sperm and it’s DNA from damage thereby increasing the sperm quality. Sperm with damaged DNA can fail to thrive at all or fail to allow for conception. And in some circumstances, it’s the damaged DNA that causes birth defects or a failure for the baby to thrive.
So basically, vitamin C helps to neutralize any chemicals or toxins found in the semen from things like environmental pollution, or smoking. (Another reason to quit before you try to conceive!)
Along with its antioxidant properties, vitamin C seems to help semen be less sticky, or clumped together so that the sperm can more easily move and swim to meet the egg.
WOMEN, VITAMIN C, AND PROGESTERONE
Vitamin C is also helpful for women, particularly if progesterone is low. When women with low progesterone take 750 mg of vitamin C per day, 77% of those women saw an increased level of progesterone, leading an increased rate of pregnancy (25%) vs. 11% of women in the study with no treatment resulting in pregnancy.
In the study, 53% of women with luteal phase defect experienced a lengthening of their luteal phase (and those trying to conceive became pregnant) versus 22% of women without vitamin C supplementation found that their luteal phase was longer.
As with any nutrition, the best way to get vitamin C is through whole, colorful, and nutrient-dense foods.
Where to get your Vitamin C for fertility
Below is the World’s Healthiest Food’s ranking for food sources of vitamin C
Food – Serving – the amount of Vit C/mg – Recommended Daily Intake %
- Rosehip seeds – 1 cup – 541mgs
- Papaya – 1 medium – 168.08 mg – 224%
- Bell Peppers – 1 cup – 117.48 mg – 157%
- Broccoli – 1 cup – 101.24 mg – 135%
- Brussels Sprout – 1 cup – 96.72 mg – 129%
- Strawberries – 1 cup – 84.67 mg – 113%
- Pineapple – 1 cup – 78.87 mg – 105%
- Oranges – 1 medium – 69.69 mg – 93%
- Kiwifruit – 1 medium – 63.96 mg – 85%
- Cantaloupe – 1 cup – 58.72 mg 78%
- Cauliflower – 1 cup – 54.93 mg 73%
Other good food sources of Vitamin C are kale, cabbage, bok choy, grapefruit, parsley, and turnip, beet, mustard, and collard greens.
While whole food sources will always be best, supplementation may be helpful if you struggle with digestive issues and vitamin and mineral absorption. Work with your holistic health provider to find the best dose for your diet and lifestyle.
How much Vitamin C is recommended?
The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) amount for Vitamin C was raised a while back, almost across the board for all men, women, and children. What used to be 60mgs per day for men, now stands at 90 for non-smokers and 120 for smokers. If this seems quite low to you, bear in mind that this is the amount needed just to prevent certain illnesses like scurvy, not necessarily the amount for keeping the body in perfect running order.
Many of the fertility studies showing the benefits of vitamin C were done using supplements of 1000mgs, 3000mgs, and sometimes even more per day.
You’ll normally figure out when you’ve reached your body’s limit for vitamin C in one easily noticed reaction – loose stools. You see, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that what the body doesn’t use, it eliminates. So you should be able to increase the amount you take until you notice this reaction – you’ll then know how much your body needs. I prefer to find out what amount will cause loose stools and then reduce it by half to make sure I don’t overload my system every day. (The best way to know how much you need is to do a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) and work with a practitioner.
If you’re dealing with male infertility it may be wise to supplement the husband’s diet with a good quality vitamin C supplement, especially if he’s not getting it through food. (I know how finicky some husbands can be about vegetables and you can find quality whole foods vitamin C on Amazon). Some practitioners also recommend only increasing the vitamin C supplementation right before and during ovulation to help the mobility of the sperm.
Supplementing can be a good idea, but it’s also important to remember that long-term, or high dose supplementation, may end up causing a different imbalance within the body. So make sure to talk to your healthcare practitioner about any supplementation.
*I should also let you know that taking aspirin, alcohol, or antidepressants, as well as smoking has been shown to lower vitamin C levels in the body. And high doses of C can also make some medications not as effective, so check with your doc if you’re serious about taking large doses and are already on meds. About 3/4 of the way down on this page tells you a bit more about the safety of high vitamin C doses.