Mix up 24 percent protein with healthy amounts of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B-12, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper and it sounds like the recipe for a super-powered protein shake. But it's also precisely what you'll find when you explore sperm nutrition. Sperm and its seminal fluid have been used as everything from a facial beauty serum to a health tonic. However, its many nutrients are specifically designed for the process of procreation.
Semen Brings Benefits
You might wonder how sperm can ever make it to fertilize an egg when the human body is so tuned in to eradicating invaders. Although a woman's white blood cells attack sperm, the semen's high nutrient content and alkaline nature essentially convince a woman's system that it's beneficial and neutralizes the acidic vaginal environment.
A woman's vaginal immune system isn't the only thing calmed by semen. Studies since 2002 all agree that women who have unprotected sex have lower levels of depression, thanks to the high levels of natural hormones contained therein.
Vitamins in Semen
Although sperm itself is made up of primarily protein, there are a few vitamins contained in the seminal fluid. Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid is most prevalent, making up roughly 35 percent of the semen, according to Healthy Semen, and plays a significant role in sperm survival en route to egg fertilization. There is also a small amount of vitamin B-12 in the fluid.
Minerals in Semen
Potassium plays a vital role in the cells' electrical function and, in semen, it plays a vital role in keeping sperm safe from white blood cells. About 7 percent of the fluid is made up of potassium, or about 3 to 4 milligrams in the average ejaculate. There's also roughly 10 mg of sodium, giving it a salty taste, and a trace amount of magnesium. Other trace minerals include zinc, iron, copper, phosphorus, calcium and chloride.
Read more: Secrets of 16 Strange and Popular Superfoods
Other Seminal Nutrition Facts
Sperm is composed almost entirely of protein, and it takes up about 24 percent of the seminal fluid. There are more than 200 types of protein in your guy's spunk, some of which are used to nourish the sperm on its long journey to find an egg to fertilize. More than 27 percent of "man milk" delivers nourishing cholesterol and glucose to power the little swimmers along the way.
Hormones are a major component of seminal fluid, and might be a factor in sperm's ability to help stabilize mood. Beside testosterone, there's oxytocin, cortisol, testosterone, estrone, estrogen, progesterone, melatonin and more.
You don't even have to swallow to get the benefits: The highly absorbent tissue in a vagina or rectum can deliver the benefits to your body.
Consider Semen Therapy
There's no doubt that spermidine, contained in great quantities in sperm, is a superfood. Mice in a 2016 study that were deprived of the substance lost their hair, got wrinkles and exhibited other signs of old age. Mice that were supplemented with spermidine experienced significantly increased protection from cardiac events, and lived longer. In other studies, spermidine has been equated with protection against developing liver cancer and certain other diseases.
Although spermidine is found in semen, don't lose heart if you're not big on chugging it down. There are 24 to 60 mg per milliliter of spermidine in cum — but foods like citrus, aged cheese, mushrooms, whole grains, legumes and soybeans also deliver an admirable amount.
Spermidine is one of three health-protecting polyamines — spermine and putrescine are the others — found in sperm and, in smaller amounts, in every cell in the body. Foods exposed to salt or fermentation are the best sources, so check out aged cheeses, sauerkraut, miso, natto and tempeh, in addition to oranges, grapefruit juice and other nonfermented foods high in polyamines.
See Sick Semen?
If you're considering using sperm for therapeutic purposes, pay close attention to its color and viscosity. Normal male ejaculate ranges from grayish-white to yellowish-white. Whiteness is important: Colors like yellow, green or orange could mean anything from a bacterial infection in the testicles to pus, urine or a sexually transmitted disease.
It could also mean that carrots, certain vitamins, medical marijuana or medications were consumed recently, as all can add a tinge of color. Let any off-putting color, odor or texture serve as a warning. The risk of making yourself sick just isn't worth the small number of therapeutic nutrients.
Super-Nutrition Is Hard to Swallow
Although you can get plenty of nutrition from your regular diet, if you want to get a small extra nutrient boost from a healthy partner, there's no harm in swallowing semen. However, the effect on your diet and nutrition is likely to be minuscule, at best. The average "shot" of sperm ejaculated by a male contains just 1/4 teaspoon to a teaspoon of fluid and delivers less than 1 calorie, according to the University of California, Santa Barbara.
You'd have to drink a cup of the stuff — about 70 ejaculates — to get much in the way of nutrition. It would contain 280 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc — about 22 grams. It would also include 35 percent of the RDA of vitamin C, or about 26 mg. You'd get the same amount eating a quarter of a cup of raw cauliflower. Better yet, eat 1/2 cup of sweet red pepper or drink 3/4 cup of orange juice to reap more than 90 milligrams of the vitamin.
And that's the best semen has to offer. A cupful has just 12 grams of protein — the same amount you'd get in two eggs, which might be easier to swallow. There's 10 percent of the RDA of phosphorus and chloride, 6 percent of calcium and magnesium and less than 5 percent of iron, copper and vitamin B-12.
Read more: The Top 9 Foods for Men's Sexual Health
Shake Up Your Diet
If swallowing a shot of sperm straight up doesn't appeal to you, there's nothing wrong with adding a bit of sperm nutrition to your diet in other ways. Natural Harvest, by author and spunky chef Paul Photenhauer, rolls out 62 pages of imaginative recipes incorporating man sauce into your meal. From drinks that really put the "cock" in cocktail, to high-protein shakes and whipping up your own special sauce to adorn the main dish, there are many ways to spice up your diet and get your sperm vitamins at the same time.
Sperm Nutrition for the DIY Guy
For men, there is an easier way to reap the benefits. Nutrients lost during ejaculation can leave a man feeling drained and lazy. However, returning them to the bloodstream by keeping them inside the body during orgasm can give a guy all the benefits of sperm nutrition without ever spilling a drop.
Read more: 10 Scary Facts About Men's Sperm Count
Known as "injaculation," the technique releases sperm back into the bladder, where absorbent tissue can return the nutrients to the bloodstream. One method for injaculating involves pressing the perineum — that spot between the anus and the testicles — thereby redirecting the flow back up the urethra.
From ancient times, Taoists practiced limiting ejaculations as a way to maximize age-defying sexual hormones. The ages-old practice uses breathing techniques, combined with anal and pelvic floor muscle contractions to retain the semen inside the body and reap the benefits from what's in sperm.