The micronutrient supplements, zinc sulphate and folic acid, did not ameliorate sperm functional parameters in oligoasthenoteratozoospermic men

Andrologia. 2014;46(9):956-62. doi: 10.1111/and.12180. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


We investigated the effects of folic acid and zinc sulphate supplementation on the improvement of sperm function in subfertile oligoasthenoteratozoospermic (OAT) men. Eighty-three OAT men participated in a 16-week intervention randomised, double-blind clinical trial with daily treatment of folic acid (5 mg day(-1) ) and zinc sulphate (220 mg day(-1) ), or placebo. Before and after treatment, semen and blood samples were obtained for determining sperm concentration, motility, and morphology, sperm viability, sperm mitochondrial function, sperm chromatin status using toluidine blue, aniline blue, acridine orange and chromomycin A3 staining; and semen and blood folate, zinc, B12 , total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and malondialdehyde (MDA) concentrations. Sperm concentration (×10(6) ml(-1) ) increased in subfertile men receiving the combined treatment of folic acid and zinc sulphate and also in the group receiving only folic acid treatment; however, it was not statistically significant (P = 0.056 and P = 0.05, respectively). Sperm chromatin integrity (%) increased significantly in subfertile men receiving only zinc sulphate treatment (P = 0.048). However, this improvement in sperm quality was not significant after adjusting placebo effect. This study showed that zinc sulphate and folic acid supplementation did not ameliorate sperm quality in infertile men with severely compromised sperm parameters, OAT. Male infertility is a multifactorial disorder, and also nutritional factors play an important role in results of administration of supplementation on sperm parameters. However, these results should be confirmed by multiple studies in larger populations of OAT men.

Keywords: Folic acid; male infertility; oligoasthenoteratozoospermia; sperm parameters; zinc sulphate.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Asthenozoospermia / drug therapy*
  • Asthenozoospermia / pathology
  • Asthenozoospermia / physiopathology
  • Chromatin / drug effects
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Micronutrients / therapeutic use*
  • Oligospermia / drug therapy*
  • Oligospermia / pathology
  • Oligospermia / physiopathology
  • Sperm Count
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects
  • Spermatozoa / abnormalities
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects
  • Spermatozoa / physiology
  • Zinc Sulfate / administration & dosage
  • Zinc Sulfate / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Chromatin
  • Micronutrients
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Zinc Sulfate
  • Folic Acid