Antioxidants are the molecules responsible for preventing oxidation and aging of the cells in our body.
Also, antioxidants play a fundamental role in male fertility, as they contribute to good seminal quality. The human body has complex systems of antioxidants, but these can also be consumed in the diet, especially with the intake of fruits and vegetables.
Provided below is an index with the 6 points we are going to expand on in this article.
Oxidative stress on sperm
Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are a type of molecules that occur naturally in the body as a result of normal oxygen metabolism. ROS play an important role in cell signaling and are therefore necessary for basic cell functions.
However, a significant increase in ROS in the body can cause significant damage to cellular structures, leading to a situation known as oxidative stress.
As for the effect of this oxidative stress on fertility, several studies have shown that between 30 and 80% of male sterility problems are caused by the presence of ROS in semen.
In particular, there are two molecules that most affect sperm development and quality:
- Free radicals
- highly unstable chemical species capable of damaging cell structures.
- Active oxygen
- is the most oxidizing substance in our body, so it oxidizes the cells causing cellular aging.
The consequences of oxidative stress on sperm quality are as follows:
- Sperm DNA fragmentation
- Alterations in the spermatic membrane.
- Decreased sperm mobility that can lead to asthenozoospermia.
- Defects in the shape of the sperm that can lead to teratozoospermia.
- Difficulty for the sperm to interact with the egg and fertilize it.
Because of this, it is quite common to find an excess of free radicals in males suffering from infertility.
Several factors contribute to increase the level of ROS in the body and therefore affect the quality of the semen in the case of males. Some of these are listed below:
- Lifestyle factors
- consumption of alcohol, tobacco or following a diet rich in refined vegetable fats and oils. In smokers, the antioxidant capacity in the blood is reduced by half compared to non-smokers.
- Environmental factors
- excessive exposure to solar radiation and environmental pollution.
- Health state
- some infections, autoimmune and/or chronic diseases, etc.
On the other hand, the harmful effect of ROS will also depend on the dose and time of exposure.
Antioxidants are natural substances with the ability to delay or prevent cell damage caused by oxidative stress by counteracting the effect of reactive oxygen species.
The human body has different antioxidative systems such as the following enzymes and molecules: glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, coenzyme Q, uric acid, etc.
Besides, there are other exogenous antioxidants that we acquire with food, among which we highlight the vitamins and flavonoids.
As for the antioxidants that can be found in semen and which are responsible for protecting the sperm, these include vitamins C and E, the enzyme superoxide dismutase, glutathione, and thioredoxin.
Numerous studies have shown that men with infertility have a lower concentration of these antioxidants in their semen, which would increase oxidative stress and poor semen quality.
Eating foods rich in antioxidants can be an advantage for these infertile males and help improve sperm quality.
Below, we will detail the main antioxidants for male fertility and their most important sources:
- in carrots, spinach, lettuce, kale, pumpkins, etc.
- in tomatoes, watermelon, papayas, grapes, etc.
- Vitamine A
- in dairy, egg, carrots, mango, liver, etc
- Vitamine C
- in citrus fruits, cereals, fish, etc.
- Vitamine E
- in nuts, seeds, virgin olive oil, broccoli, etc.
- in blackberries, raspberries, cherries, soya, chocolate, oregano, tea, coffee, red wine, etc.
Also, elements such as selenium, zinc, or manganese are very important in the diet because they enhance the action of antioxidants. The use of any of these antioxidants may increase the likelihood of pregnancy, although scientific evidence is scarce.
In dietary supplements
In addition to the above, it is also possible to supplement the diet with antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress in men and thus improve their seminal quality. These are nutritional complexes containing these vitamins and minerals, which can be purchased at the pharmacy.
However, it is recommended that there be medical supervision of the consumption of these drugs since an excess of vitamins could also be harmful.
Some of these antioxidant supplements are:
- Complexes with Andean maca
- Maca is a Peruvian plant with properties that increase fertility and improve libido. It can be consumed as an infusion, in capsules or in powder form./dd>
- contains carnitines and antioxidants such as coenzyme Q10, zinc, folic acid, selenium, vitamin B12, vitamin C and vitamin E
- has a high content of DHA, a fatty acid of the Omega-3 family, in addition to other antioxidants such as folic acid, vitamins C and E, and minerals such as selenium and zinc.
Several studies indicate that a diet rich in omega - promotes sperm morphology, but a diet rich in saturated fats decreases the concentration of sperm in men and thus reduces their reproductive capacity.
Normally, between 3 and 6 months of treatment with one of these compounds, some improvement could already be seen in seminal parameters such as concentration, motility, and morphology of the spermatozoa.
FAQs from users
How do antioxidants help male fertility?
Oxidative stress is an imbalance in the cellular environment, produced by toxic factors that surround us and that are especially aggressive to sperm. It can affect sperm in several ways: their development throughout their evolution, their morphology, their ability to move (motility), and their fertile capacity since it damages their DNA. This explains the sperm damage.
Antioxidants are substances, essentially natural products, that we find in our food and try to rebalance the balance of sperm metabolism between free radicals (oxidative stress) and antioxidants in the body (the body's ability to combat them), increasing the latter and repairing the damage caused.
Multiple studies have shown that antioxidants (L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Selenium, Zinc) produce an increase in both the number of spermatozoa and their mobility.
In spite of all this, the effectiveness of antioxidants is only given by correct diagnosis and an adequate therapeutic guideline when faced with a certain process of infertility.
Does garlic help improve sperm motility?
Garlic is a powerful antioxidant food since it is rich in vitamins A, B, and C, selenium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur, zinc, copper, potassium, etc. Therefore, it does contribute to reducing oxidative stress in the spermatozoa and to improving both their mobility and their concentration and morphology.
Also, garlic has antibiotic, anti-cancer, and skin-regenerative properties.
Do antioxidants improve sperm quality?
Antioxidants can decrease oxidative stress and thus help to improve sperm quality.
Oxidative stress can affect sperm quality, both by damaging sperm motility and by fragmenting DNA, whereby the genetic alteration can be passed on to the embryo. The most important thing to improve sperm quality is to have a healthy lifestyle.
Do antioxidants also improve female fertility?
Indeed, a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and the contribution of antioxidant substances can help to have a better ovarian response, as well as prevent the aging of the ovaries.
Vitamin C improves hormone levels and a balanced level of vitamin E prevents miscarriage.
Read more about this topic here: Benefitial foods to boost female fertility.
Suggested for you
You will find other reasons for male infertility in the following article: What Causes Male Infertility? - Symptoms & Treatment.
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FAQs from users: 'How do antioxidants help male fertility?', 'Does garlic help improve sperm motility?', 'Do antioxidants improve sperm quality?' and 'Do antioxidants also improve female fertility?'.
I have been under treatment for over a year in order to improve my reproductive life because I had a seminogram done and the result was I have low sperm count, motility and quality. And after a few months, my urologist confirmed it was due to varicocele… My recommendation is that you go visit an specialized urologist before taking any vitamin supplement or compound, because I did it and in the meantime the illness kept on getting worse. I underwent a varicocelectomy and now I’m on my way towards recovery.
Don’t lose hope my friends!