‘Carotenoids’ is the group name given to: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein and lycopene – all of which have been found to increase male fertility according to a new study.
The study was carried out by Harvard University School of Public Health, where the focus was on how fruits and vegetables can affect motility (how well a sperm can swim towards an egg).
The study was set up with a questionnaire given to 189 young, college-age men at the Rochester, New York, which surveyed the diets and supplements of each, where researchers were able to estimate the amount of the following micronutrients in the diets of the men:
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
- all of the carotenoids
Then, after completing the survey each man submitted a semen sample which was analyzed within 30 minutes for:
- semen volume
- sperm count
- sperm motility
- sperm morphology
The results showed that carrots were the food that had the most health benefits to sperm due to the carotenoids they contain. As the men who had an increased carotenoid intake also had faster sperm that could swim as much as:
“6.5% faster than the sperm of men who had the lowest carotenoid intake.”
They also noted that the sperm swam much faster in men who obtained their carotenoid intake from food rather than supplements.
According to the results published in Fertility and Sterility, the boost in sperm movement was attributed to beta-carotene type of carotenoids that carrots are rich in, due to the body converting them into vitamin A, which then can support sperm health even further by its abilities to neutralize free radicals.
The carotenoids lutein and lycopene also demonstrated abilities to improve sperm health in the study.
Interestingly, high intake of vitamin C (from food only) was associated with lower sperm count. The sperm concentrations were 22% lower than in the men with the least intake of vitamin C. However moderate amounts of vitamin C in the diet produced the highest sperm concentration, count and motility. Vitamin C was not related to any change in sperm shape.
This particular study found no links in diet to higher or lower sperm counts or motility with any intake of vitamins A and E. Plus, the study found no matter whether participants smoked or had a higher BMI than they should – it did not affect the results of the study at all. But this may have been different had the men taking part in the study been much older.
Whilst eating the correct diet is vital to the health of both sexes for them to go on and reproduce, the toxins in our environment have to also be taken into account as they have been proved to be found in the umbilical cords of newborn babies. So maybe it should be said we are what we ‘absorb’ more than simply what we ‘eat’.