Antioxidants play a significant role in supporting sperm health. Sperm are particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress due to their high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids and the need for intense energy production during their journey to fertilise an egg.1
Here's how antioxidants benefit sperm health:
Protection against Oxidative Stress
Antioxidants neutralize harmful molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals. High temperatures, electromagnetic waves, air pollution, insecticides, alcohol consumption, obesity, and poor nutrition all increase ROS formation.1 Elevated levels of ROS in semen can lead to sperm damage, including DNA fragmentation, which can impair sperm motility and function. Antioxidants help protect sperm from this damage.
Improvement in Sperm Quality
Research suggests that antioxidant supplementation may improve sperm quality in men with suboptimal sperm parameters with improvements seen with sperm count, motility, and morphology (shape).1,2 This can enhance the overall quality of sperm and increase the chances of successful fertilization and the likelihood of achieving a pregnancy. 1,3,4
Reduced DNA Damage
Antioxidants can help reduce DNA damage in sperm, which is important for the genetic integrity of the embryo. Lower DNA damage in sperm is associated with a reduced risk of miscarriage and birth defects.5
Support for Sperm Function
Antioxidants support various aspects of sperm function, including their ability to penetrate the egg and fertilize it.6 This can be crucial for successful conception.
Common antioxidants that have shown promise in benefiting sperm health include:
- Vitamin C: Known for its strong antioxidant properties, vitamin C can help reduce oxidative stress in sperm.1
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is another potent antioxidant that can protect sperm from oxidative damage.1,7
- Selenium: Selenium is a trace element that plays a role in protecting sperm and supporting their motility.7
-Zinc: Zinc is an antioxidant mineral that helps protect sperm from oxidative stress. Additionally, zinc is involved in sperm volume and count and supports motility. 4
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): CoQ10 is involved in energy production within cells, including sperm cells. It can help support sperm motility.3
- L-carnitine: L-carnitine is an amino acid that is essential for sperm morphology and may enhance sperm motility.1,8
It's important to note that while antioxidant supplementation may benefit sperm health in some cases, it should be done under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Excessive antioxidant intake can have adverse effects, so a balanced approach is essential. Additionally, lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and avoidance of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also contribute to improved sperm health. If you're concerned about sperm health or fertility, consider consulting a reproductive specialist for personalised advice and evaluation.
1 F. Dimitriadis, H. Borgmann, J. P. Struck, J. Salem and T. H. Kuru, Antioxidants, 2023, 12, 836.
2 A. T. Alahmar and R. Naemi, Andrologia, , DOI:10.1111/and.14385.
3 A. T. Alahmar, A. E. Calogero, R. Singh, R. Cannarella, P. Sengupta and S. Dutta, Clin. Exp. Reprod. Med., 2021, 48, 97–104.
4 D. Allouche-Fitoussi and H. Breitbart, Int. J. Mol. Sci., 2020, 21, 7796.
5 D. B. McQueen, J. Zhang and J. C. Robins, Fertil. Steril., 2019, 112, 54-60.e3.
6 A. Kowalczyk, Reprod. Sci., 2021, 29, 1387–1394.
7 M. K. Moslemi and S. Tavanbakhsh, Int. J. Gen. Med., 2011, 4, 99–104.
8 M. H. Boskabady and T. Farkhondeh, Phytother. Res. PTR, 2016, 30, 1072–1094.