Getting enough folate in the diet may be as important for prospective fathers as it is for mothers-to-be, according to a new study by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC) in Davis. Doctors already urge pregnant women and women who may become pregnant to take folic acid or folate supplements to lessen the risk of having children with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Good dietary sources include fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, legumes and orange juice.
The new study found that low levels of folic acid in men are associated with decreased sperm count and decreased sperm density. In addition, the researchers suspect that low folate levels may correlate with poor synthesis and repair of sperm DNA and thus greater risk of chromosome breaks and subsequent cancer in their offspring.
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