Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Trying to Conceive? Eat Your Veggies and Take Antioxidants

There's been a discussion for many years amongst scientists seeking to find a possible relationship between men's diets and the quality of their semen. As it turns out, Spanish researchers have now confirmed that antioxidants, molecules which are found mainly in fruit and vegetables, indeed play a key role. Antioxidants delay and prevent the oxidation of other molecules.

Low antioxidant intake has now been associated with low reproductive capacity in semen. This is the finding of a new study carried out in two infertility centres in Alicante and Murcia, and which has been published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

"Our previous research study, published in March, showed that men who eat large amounts of meat and full fat dairy products have lower seminal quality than those who eat more fruit, vegetables and reduced fat dairy products. In this study, we have found that people who consume more fruits and vegetables are ingesting more antioxidants, and this is the important point", said Jaime Mendiola, lead author of the article and a researcher at the University of Murcia (Spain).

The experts 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. Their objective was to find out whether a higher or lower intake of vitamins and antioxidants could affect semen quality. These molecules, which are present in foods such as citrus fruits, peppers and spinach (and of course from supplementation) 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.

The study was carried out among 61 men, 30 of whom had reproductive problems, while the remaining 31 acted as controls. "We saw that, among the couples with fertility problems coming to the clinic, the men with good semen quality ate more vegetables and fruit (more vitamins, folic acid and fibre and less proteins and fats) than those men with low seminal quality", explains Mendiola.

"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", the Spanish scientist continues.

It will be interesting for scientists to uncover whether some of these new high-value antioxidants taken in supplement form, such as Acai,(and other "superfruits") as well as Grape Seed extracts, etc, can have any bearing on sperm quality.


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