Folic acid improves sperm quality, says new US report


Los Angeles: Prospective fathers should consider taking folic acid supplements to improve their chances of fathering a child, according to new US research.

A study by the University of California has found a link between high levels of the nutrient in men’s diets and the genetic quality of sperm. Those with the highest levels had the lowest proportion of sperm with genetic changes that can lead to Down’s syndrome and miscarriages.

It has already been proven that women who are trying for a baby should ensure they have adequate levels of folic acid. The B vitamin is essential for foetal development and a deficiency during the early stages of pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects in the baby, including spina bifida.

Professor Brenda Eskenazi at the University and her team looked at how micronutrients affect sperm quality. They took sperm samples from 89 healthy, non-smoking men and asked detailed questions about diet and supplement intake.

They report in the journal Human Reproduction that there was an association between levels of folate in the diet and the numbers of sperm displaying aneuploidy – chromosomal abnormalities that can lead to failure to conceive and Down’s syndrome. “There was increasing benefit with increasing intake.”

The team found no consistent association between dietary zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene and sperm quality. Eskenazi suggested men trying to father a child should consider taking multivitamin supplements containing folate.

Folic acid may protect against Alzheimer’s

New York: Folic acid may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, say US doctors.

The finding follows a study of nearly 1,000 elderly people which discovered that those with higher levels of this B vitamin were less likely to suffer mental deterioration.

The research was carried out by Columbia Univesity Medical Center spent six years examinng the diet of 965 healthy adults with the average age of 75. The one in five who went on to develop Alzheimer’s had the lowest levels of folic acid.

Folic acid has also been found to be useful in improving the memory of people aged over 50.

Folic acid, a B vitamin is found mostly in dark green vegetables such as asparagus but is easily destroyed by cooking. Supplements provide a form of the vitamin more easily taken up by the body. And the researchers recommended that both natural and supplement forms of the vitamin were the best choice for older people.