March 20, 2008 -- The B vitamin folate may be key for dads-to-be, new research shows.
Folate (called folic acid in supplement form) already is a must-have nutrient for women of childbearing age because it reduces the chances of neural tube defects in babies.
Now, a new study suggests that folate or folic acid may also be important for men.
In the study, 89 healthy U.S. men provided sperm samples and completed surveys about their diets and vitamin supplement use.
Sperm with chromosomal abnormalities called aneuploidy were rare for all of the men, but they were 18% to 30% rarer in men who reported high folate or folic acid intake.
The study doesn't prove that folate or folic acid prevents aneuploidy. More studies are needed to confirm the findings, note the researchers, who included Brenda Eskenazi, PhD, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Public Health.
Meanwhile, you can find folate in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, beans, peas (including black-eyed peas), and fruits (including citrus fruits and juices).
In the U.S., folic acid is added to enriched breads, cereals, flours, corn meals, pastas, rice, and other grain products. Some breakfast cereals and other products are also fortified with folic acid.
The study appears online in Human Reproduction.