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9 June 2009
Antioxidants critical for sperm health, male fertility

New Spanish research appearing in the journal Fertility and Sterility has linked low antioxidant intake to low reproductive capacity in semen. The researchers have spent the past four years analyzing the link between dietary habits or workplace exposure to contaminants and the quality of semen among men attending fertility clinics.

The objective was to find out whether a higher or lower intake of vitamins (which act as antioxidants) could affect semen quality. Antioxidants work by lowering the level of oxidative stress that can affect semen quality, and improve sperm concentration parameters as well as sperm mobility and morphology.

"We saw that, among the couples with fertility problems coming to the clinic, the men with good semen quality ate more vegetables and fruit than those men with low seminal quality," explained Jaime Mendiola, the lead researcher. "A healthy diet is not only a good way of avoiding illness, but could also have an impact on improving seminal quality. What we still do not understand is the difference between taking these vitamins naturally and in the form of supplements. In the studies we are going to carry out in the United States [where the consumption of vitamins in tablet form is very common] we will be looking at the role of supplements."

Mendiola noted that increasing numbers of scientific studies show that human seminal quality and male fertility have declined over recent decades. In Northern European countries, such as Denmark, 40 percent of young men have seminal quality that is below recommended levels for fertility. "The Danish experts are studying the issue, because it is very worrying. Emphasis has been placed in recent years on the significance of babies being exposed to toxins and pollutants while in the womb, which could also compromise their future reproductive capacity when they grow to be adults," said Mendiola.

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Source: Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

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