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Antioxidants May Improve Male Fertility
Couples who struggle to conceive could find baby-making help from antioxidants such as vitamin E and zinc, hints a new review of more than 30 studies.
The researchers focused on men who were subfertile — less fertile than average but still capable of making a baby — and found that those who took antioxidants were more than four times as likely to get their partners pregnant than subfertile men who did not take the supplements.
The New Zealand team stops short of saying that antioxidants actually improve fertility, however. More research is needed to be sure.
Subfertility affects one in 20 men and is responsible for half of delayed conceptions. Up to 80 percent of cases are thought to be due to the effects of oxidative stress on sperm cells, lowering both their numbers and their quality.
Oxidative stress 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 cells by stabilizing free radicals.
This has led some experts to wonder if antioxidants might help sperm stay swimmingly healthy.