Moms-to-be (and mom wannabes) aren’t the only ones who should be laying into the leafy greens! Dads-to-be need to think about what goes into their bodies, too. That’s because there’s evidence showing a link between folic acid and male fertility — and when it comes to folic acid, it seems more is more. In fact, one study showed that men who consume high levels of folic acid (over 700 mcg a day) actually lower their risk of sperm abnormalities by 20 to 30 percent. Why is that good? Well, the higher the quality of a guy’s sperm, the lower the chances of chromosomal abnormalities that can lead to birth defects, like Down syndrome, in babies. In other words, a great way for your partner to safeguard his boys is by loading up on folic acid (as well as other vitamins and minerals).
Folic acid (also known as folate or folacin) is actually the B9 vitamin; its main job in the body is to help produce and maintain new cells, and it’s especially important during cell division. Without folic acid, the body could not produce DNA (which is essential when it comes to making babies!) and red blood cells. You can find this important sperm-building nutrient in such foods as leafy green vegetables (think spinach and kale), most fruits (including avocados), beans, beets, chickpeas, and fortified cereals and breads. So dish your man up a hearty salad of leafy greens and beets along with some bean burritos and a side of guacamole and baked chips. (Who said folic-rich food couldn’t be guy-friendly?)
Or better yet, have him cook both of you meals rich in folic acid, since you need folate, too. Current guidelines recommend that all women of childbearing age (even those not actively trying to conceive) get at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily. If you’re expecting to expect, your doctor has likely already recommended taking a daily prenatal vitamin that has between 600 and 1,000 mcg of folic acid, even more than the recommended daily amount. That’s because getting enough folic acid in your diet before conception and during early pregnancy has been found to significantly reduce the risk of neural-tube defects (such as spina bifida) in developing babies. For moms-to-be whose family history shows a high risk of neural-tube defects, the guidelines go one big step further, recommending that they get ten times that amount, or 4 mg, from folic-acid supplements.
Because of that important connection between folic acid and male fertility, you don’t want your partner to skimp on this essential nutrient. But what if he isn’t eating a nutritious diet? (Those fast-food wrappers crumpled up in his car may be an indication that he isn’t eating up to par….) Have him talk with his doctor about folic acid and male fertility and let them figure out the best way for your guy to get this nutrient (through food or supplements or both). This way, he’s doing his part to help ensure that the two of you have a healthy pregnancy — and a healthy baby!
Read Also >> Q&A on Male Fertility: Do Men Need Folic Acid?