In clinical terms, infertility is diagnosed after a year of sexual intercourse without the use of contraceptives wherein the man is unable to impregnate his partner or the woman cannot conceive. Naturally, in infertile couples, specialists examine both the man and the woman to determine what may be preventing them from conceiving and to come up with a treatment program.
In diagnosing male infertility, sperm production and semen quality are analyzed closely. In recent years, specialists have also started looking at how nutrition impacts infertility, both for male and female infertility. Many studies have shown that sperm quality is positively impacted by a diet that’s rich in antioxidants. However, different antioxidants have varying benefits on male fertility. Read on and find out which antioxidants are the best in improving male fertility.
Antioxidants not only protect the body from oxidative damage, for men, antioxidants also help improve sperm quality. Vitamin E, for instance, not just helps prevent damage to the cell membranes caused by lipid peroxidation, oral supplementation with this oil-soluble vitamin also helps improve sperm count and motility.
This means that the more sperm you ejaculate and the better they swim, the better the chances of conceiving. Conversely, if you have a low intake of vitamin E, it can lead to low sperm concentration and poor sperm motility, which will then make it difficult for you and your partner to conceive.
To naturally boost your vitamin E levels, make sure you eat a lot of dark-colored leafy veggies like kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens, as these healthy foods have high concentrations of vitamin E. You can also snack on nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts.
Vitamin C is another vitamin and antioxidant that plays an important role in male fertility. If your levels of vitamin C are low, it can lead to higher rates of poor sperm cells with damaged genetic material. Just taking a 200 mg supplement of vitamin C daily for a week can already increase your sperm count by more than a hundred percent. So if you’re planning to have a baby soon, increasing your vitamin C intake can really help.
Citrus fruits and berries are not just delicious, they’re also excellent natural sources of vitamin C. If you’re into tropical fruits, you can also eat mangoes, papaya, pineapple, and guava. For vegetables, you’ll never go wrong with tomatoes, kale, broccoli, and bell peppers.
Previous studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables can greatly help men who are having problems with their sperm count and quality. Aside from vitamins, there are also many other antioxidants in fruits and vegetables that contribute to the improvement of a man’s fertility, and carotenoids are just an example.
For carotenoids, lycopene and beta-carotene have both been tested to find out how they impact sperm quality. The former was found to enhance sperm morphology while the latter was found to increase sperm concentration. Together, these two carotenoids help improve motile sperm count, thus, enhancing sperm quality.
Tomatoes aren’t the only delicious source of lycopene. For this antioxidant, you can increase your intake of watermelon, grapefruit, papaya, and asparagus. If you’re focusing on beta-carotene, your top choice would be carrots. Of course, kale, spinach, sweet potato, apricots, cantaloupes, or any yellow or orange fruit or vegetable would also give you a lot of beta-carotene.
Glutathione is usually associated with skin-whitening products but in reality, it’s also another important antioxidant. In fact, glutathione is needed for the synthesis of an enzyme that’s found in sperm cells. Moreover, glutathione is also necessary for normal levels of sperm motility. This means that if you lack this antioxidant, even if you produce enough sperm, they may not be able to swim properly to reach your partner’s egg cell, let alone fertilize it.
Even in the early 1990s, glutathione was already being investigated by scientists to find out how it affects male fertility. Since then, it has been established that glutathione is just one of the antioxidants found in the semen and that infertile men have lower levels of antioxidants in the semen.
To naturally boost your glutathione levels, you can increase your intake of sulfur-rich foods such as onions and leeks. Fruits and veggies like potatoes, asparagus, apples, and peaches can also help the body produce more glutathione, as do lean protein sources like whey and soy. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale, watercress, and broccoli are also great natural sources of glutathione as well as many other important nutrients.
Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is not as popular as an antioxidant when compared to vitamin C or carotenoids or anthocyanins. However, SOD does play a very important role in protecting the semen from oxidative damage.
In fact, when there is low superoxide dismutase activity in the semen, it may lead to a condition called oligoasthenozoospermia. The term refers to a condition wherein a man has low sperm count and low sperm motility at the same time, which almost always leads to infertility.
One study concluded that superoxide dismutase is positively linked with sperm concentration as well as overall sperm motility. SOD also has an inverse relationship with DNA fragmentation in the sperm, which means that the higher the SOD activity, the lesser number of sperm cells have fragmented or damaged DNA. If the sperm DNA fragmentation rate is high, it leads to lower sperm viability.
Another recent study validated the positive effects of superoxide dismutase on sperm DNA fragmentation. In this case, one group of participants were given superoxide dismutase supplements, another group had supplements of other types of antioxidants, while the control group did not receive any supplements. The study showed that only those who had SOD supplements had improvements in their sperm DNA fragmentation levels.
To naturally boost your SOD levels, try incorporating cruciferous vegetables to your diet. You can also increase your vitamin C and E intake as this will also help increase seminal superoxide dismutase activity. Foods that are rich in zinc, copper, and manganese also help increase the production of superoxide dismutase.