Q. I’m taking a prenatal vitamin every day—should my husband take a supplement, too? I’ve read that zinc can improve sperm count.
A. Zinc is a mineral that’s been shown to play an important role in the development of the testes and in sperm production and motility (how well sperm move). Subfertile men who took a 220-mg supplement twice a day for three months saw increases in sperm quantity. Adding folic acid to zinc may be especially helpful: One study found that 24 subfertile men who took 66 mg of zinc sulfate and 5 mg of folic acid daily for 26 weeks noted a 74 percent increase in sperm count. Unfortunately, none of the increases was enough to put the men’s sperm counts above the normal rating of 20 million cells/mL. It’s not hard to get the recommended daily allowance of 8 mg of zinc in your diet; it’s found in oysters, meats, poultry, nuts, and cheese. If you think your husband’s fertility might need to be evaluated, talk to your doctor.