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Sperm Quality and Antioxidants

​A new research study suggests that middle-aged and older men enjoying a nutritious diet that allowed them to receive sufficient doses of antioxidants were found to have healthier, higher quality sperm than others whose diets did not include these vital nutrients.

Most men experience a decline in sperm quality by age 45, due to breaks in DNA strands. While antioxidants may not be a direct cause for improved sperm health and quality, a strong link was found between sufficient antioxidant intake and lesser genetic damage that negatively impacts sperm sufficiency. Antioxidants appear to curb the occurrence of genetic damage by clearing out components responsible for cellular degradation. Men who did not receive sufficient amounts of antioxidants did not experience improvement in sperm quality.

While antioxidants appear to have positive effects on sperm quality, radical diets including extreme amounts of nutrient intake did not seem to matter. Men aged 45 years and up, who received sufficient daily amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, and zinc through regular nutrition or supplements demonstrated the lowest levels of DNA damage in sperm samples. In turn, the same results were not found in younger men who received similar amounts of antioxidants, possibly due to lower levels of oxidative damage.

Participants of this study did not experience fertility problems and while the findings were optimistic, they should not be misinterpreted as a potential cure for infertility. Instead, these findings should be regarded as an encouragement to enjoy a healthy and nutritious diet filled with antioxidant-rich foods that include fresh produce, lean proteins, and healthy fats with sufficient amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and folate.

With more men becoming first-time fathers after the age of 40, determining how middle-aged men can improve the quality of their sperm and potentially increase their chance of fertility success and healthy future children remains an important base for future research.

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