Sterility and Diet
Male fertility may be lowered if there are inadequate amounts of recommended nutrients in the diet. A recent study found that men who consumed 1.4 mg of zinc daily produced fewer sperm and had lower levels of the male hormone testosterone than men whose daily zinc intake was 1.4 mg -the male Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) of zinc is 1.2 mg. In addition, inadequate intake of vitamin C may impair male fertility. One study correlated low levels of vitamin C with an increased tendency of sperm to clump together, a problem that all but disappeared after 3 weeks of taking vitamin C supplements.
Women who have little body fat -athletes, dancers, models, chronic dieters, the poor in society -often stop menstruating, and their ovulation may also cease. At the other extreme, women who are obese may have abnormally elevated levels of estrogen, which can also result in a failure to ovulate. Any woman who is considering becoming pregnant should try to achieve her ideal weight before trying to conceive. This should be done by eating a balanced diet; a woman who is underweight when she conceives is likely to have such problems as anaemia during pregnancy and a more difficult labour.
The baby may be smaller than normal and have health problems. Dieting or involuntary starvation of the poor, during pregnancy could be dangerous to the foetus. An overweight woman should diet before trying to conceive. This also lowers the risk of developing high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy. Women who take oral contraceptives are likely to experience temporary infertility until their hormonal levels return to normal and they again start to ovulate. A woman's diet should emphasize foods that are rich in folate, vitamins B6, B12, C and E; and calcium, zinc and other minerals.
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