About one in 20 men suffers from a condition called “subfertility.” Subfertility is responsible for half of all delayed conceptions — a figure that rightly causes concern for couples wanting to start a family. There are many treatments marketed for those suffering from this condition — in fact, a whole industry has developed, including expensive and complex remedies administered at special clinics. But here’s one solution to fertility troubles that is relatively simple and inexpensive: get more antioxidants into your diet.
New Zealand researchers conducted a review of 34 studies. In all, nearly 3,000 couples undergoing fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination, were included in the review. Each study investigated the potential role of one or more antioxidants.
Based on 96 pregnancies among 964 couples in 15 of the studies, the researchers found that antioxidant use by the male partner increased the odds of conception. How much was this increase? Odds were boosted as much as four-fold — not bad!
The research team also found that men taking antioxidants improved the likelihood of their partners giving birth to a live baby by a factor of five — though only three of the studies contained data on live births.
Unfortunately the studies included in the review didn’t use the same types or numbers of antioxidants. As a result, the researchers couldn’t determine the effectiveness of individual supplements.
The researchers theorized that antioxidants help fight oxidative stress, which happens when molecules known as free radicals (byproducts of cell metabolism) damage DNA and cells’ ability to function. Antioxidants, including certain vitamins and nutrients, help to protect sperm cells, for example, by stabilizing free radicals.
The researchers cautioned that couples should not count on antioxidants to overcome their fertility challenges based on the results of this one study. What is clear, however, is that antioxidants obviously play a beneficial role in reproductive health.
With that in mind, here are five antioxidants to add to your weekly diet:
–Raspberries and blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber
–Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene — one of the most powerful antioxidants
–Broccoli is an antioxidant that contains more vitamin C than oranges
–Red grapes contain the free-radical fighting antioxidant resveratrol
–Garlic is full of sulfur compounds that make it a particularly potent antioxidant