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Vitamin B does the 'fatherly' trick

Eating a diet rich in vitamin B can protect men against producing abnormal sperm and kids with genetic abnormalities.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 21, 2008 19:12 IST

Men are more likely to father healthy children if they eat a diet rich in vitamin B, a new study has revealed. A team of international researchers has found that regular consumption of green vegetables, fruits and lentils - all containing folic acid - can protect men against producing abnormal sperm and kids with genetic abnormalities.

According to lead researcher Prof Brenda Eskenazi of the University of California, while the importance of maternal diet on reproduction was well known, the study suggested that paternal diet might also be important.

"In previous studies, we and others have shown that paternal reentrant intake may contribute to successful conceptions by improving the quality of the sperm.

"This study is the first to suggest that paternal diet may play a role after conception in the development of healthy offspring," the 'BBC News' portal quoted Prof Eskenazi as saying. The team came to the conclusion after they analysed sperm samples from 89 healthy, non-smoking men, and quizzed them about their intake of zinc, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene.


In their study, the researchers found that men who consumed the most folate -- between 722 and 1150 micrograms a day -- had 20 to 30 per cent lower levels of several types of aneuploidy than men with low folate intake. It is estimated that up to four per cent of sperm in a healthy man carry either too many or too few chromosomes -- a condition known as aneuploidy which is linked to failure to conceive, miscarriages, and children born with conditions like Down's syndrome, Turner's syndrome and Klinefelter's syndrome.

If the findings were confirmed, the current recommended daily folate intake for men of 400 micrograms might have to be revised upwards for men trying for a baby in order to reduce the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in their children, Prof Eskenazi said. The results of the study have been published in the Human Reproduction journal.