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LMU 69 – Fatherhood and Nutrition: A Hidden Influence on Offspring’s Health


LMU 69 – Fatherhood and Nutrition: A Hidden Influence on Offspring's Health

Source: Proceedings of Royal Society B. Biological Sciences Journal – 2017

Lifestyle Medicine Update (October 20, 2017)

Introduction: A Prelude to Paternal Nutrition

The journey to parenthood is a transformative one, intertwined with a tapestry of growth and development. While the importance of maternal nutrition during conception, pregnancy, and lactation is widely acknowledged, the role of paternal nutrition has lingered in the shadows. It’s a lesser-known facet, an enigma that researchers are beginning to unravel. In this narrative, we traverse the intricate landscape of paternal nutrition, exploring its profound impact on the growth and well-being of offspring during their formative months of life.

Maternal Nutrition: A Keystone for Fetal Development

The significance of maternal nutrition in shaping the trajectory of fetal growth and development is etched in scientific literature. Even marginal deficiencies in vital nutrients like folic acid, vitamin B12, and iron can cast a shadow on the offspring’s future. Neural tube defects like spina bifida lurk as potential risks, while compromised brain development looms as an ominous spectre. This realm underscores the critical nature of maternal nourishment during conception, pregnancy, and lactation, often echoing across the first 3-6 months of an infant’s life.

Beyond Maternal Nutrition: Paternal Influence Emerges

However, the canvas is far more complex. The focal point shifts to the nutritional status of the often-overlooked sperm donor – the father. Beyond the genetic legacy they contribute, fathers wield influence that extends beyond the confines of genes, a phenomenon christened as epigenetics. The scope of these influences transcends the bounds of mere genes, encompassing a spectrum of environmental effects. Toxins nestled within seminal plasma can be seamlessly passed to offspring, charting an unforeseen course for their health. Epigenetic impact also springs from factors like diet, obesity, and fitness, knitting a tapestry that can predispose offspring to conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Evidentiary Threads: Illuminating the Path

A poignant thread weaves through a Swedish study that illuminated the intricate link between early-life experiences and later generations’ health. This study unveiled a correlation between children who encountered ample food access at the age of 9 and higher rates of diabetes and heart disease among their grandchildren. In stark contrast, children grappling with mild to moderate food scarcity at a similar age witnessed their progeny’s resilience against heart disease and diabetes. This insight underscores the epigenetic echoes that food availability can orchestrate across generations, holding fathers as silent conductors of this symphony.

The Fruit Fly’s Whispers: An Unexpected Parallel

While the human story unfolds, an unexpected yet resonant parallel emerges from the realm of fruit flies. These diminutive creatures share a staggering 60 percent of human genes, and over 75 percent of our disease-related genes, rendering them an intriguing subject for scientific exploration. In a captivating experiment published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences in 2017, researchers tinkered with the diet of male fruit flies, illuminating the echoes of paternal nutrition on offspring. The results were striking; male fruit flies consuming a diet rich in sugary carbohydrates but lacking in quality protein witnessed compromised offspring health and survival rates, particularly in subsequent mating rounds. This compelling experiment paints an intriguing parallel to the observations within human studies.

The Supplement Saga: Enhancing Sperm Potency

Amidst the broader tapestry of paternal nutrition lies the realm of supplements, offering a pathway to enhance sperm quality and motility. These supplements assume paramount importance for couples traversing the path of conception, especially when male sperm potency comes into question. Within this realm, a roster of supplements emerges as promising players:

  1. Vitamin C: This antioxidant emerges as a guardian, safeguarding sperm’s genetic material from damage and mutations. Vitamin C supplementation has showcased its potential in improving sperm quality, with smokers witnessing significant benefits. Even non-smokers experienced a staggering 140 percent increase in sperm counts within a week of consuming 1,000 mg of Vitamin C daily.
  2. Vitamin B12: Demonstrating its prowess, Vitamin B12 illuminated a path for men grappling with low sperm counts or motility. Doses ranging from 1,000 mcg to 6,000 mcg daily led to substantial improvements, painting a portrait of restored vitality.
  3. Vitamin E: With doses of 600-800 IU, Vitamin E embarks on a journey to bolster sperm quality and male fertility. Its role in diminishing free radical damage to sperm cells marks a vital contribution.
  4. L-Carnitine: In a realm where sperm motility takes center stage, L-Carnitine emerges as a promising protagonist. A daily dose of 1,000 mg sets the stage for enhanced motility and improved fertility.

Charting a Course for Future Generations

In a realm where paternal nutrition unfurls its wings, a symphony of influence comes to life. Studies collectively reinforce the notion that the nutritional status of fathers plays a pivotal role in shaping the health trajectory of future generations. Aspiring fathers are poised to tread the path of wellness, not just for themselves but for the generations they engender. The journey toward fatherhood beckons the cultivation of a healthier lifestyle, a conscious effort to forge a legacy of vitality.


  1. Michal Polak, Leigh W. Simmons, Joshua B. Benoit, Kari Ruohonen, Stephen J. Simpson, Samantha M. Solon-Biet. Nutritional geometry of paternal effects on embryo mortality. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2017; 284 (1864)
  2. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease – 10th edition (2006). Editors: Shils M E, Shike M et al. Lippincott Wilkins & Wilkins.

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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