Supplements based on zinc and folic acid, increasingly propagated as substances to combat male infertility, are not actually responsible for an improvement in pregnancy rates, sperm count and potency. This is the conclusion in a statement published on the University of Utah’s website which refers to a new study published in JAMA.
According to the researchers, this is the most definitive proof obtained to date through a scientific study of the fact that these supplements do not actually meet expectations. “The message for men to take home is that, for the first time, there is high-quality data that zinc and folic acid do not improve live birth outcomes or semen function,” says James M. Hotaling, a urologist at the university and one of the authors of the study.
Among the most popular fertility supplements are those containing zinc, which is actually essential for sperm development. These supplements very often also contain folic acid, another substance that actually helps the DNA formation process of the spermatozoa themselves. However, over-the-counter supplements, also called nutraceuticals, containing these substances do not seem to produce a satisfactory result.
This is the result that the researchers obtained by performing an experiment on 2370 couples who had planned to undergo fertility treatments in various U.S. cities. Some of the men were given a supplement consisting of 5 mg of folic acid and 30 mg of zinc for six months. The remaining men were given a placebo substance.
At the end of the experiment, the researchers found no particular differences in the number of live births between men who had taken the supplement and those who had not. The group of the placebo substance showed 35% of live births compared to 34% of the first group.
In addition, the subjects in the group that had received the supplement, compared to the placebo group, had complained more abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.