Antioxidant supplements are beneficial for sub-fertile men

Couples experiencing difficulty in conceiving may benefit from using an antioxidant supplement (Showell, Brown, Yazdani, Stankiewicz & Hart, 2011). Researchers from the University of Auckland, critically reviewed the results of 34 research trials that addressed men diagnosed with sub-fertility, meaning they had a dimished reproductive capacity, yet, were still able to contribute to conception. It was found that between 30 and 80 percent of male subfertility cases were the result of the damaging effects of oxidative stres on sperm.

The studies reviewed in the foregoing critique included Randomised Control Trails, where any form of antioxidant supplementation was administered. In total 2876 couples had been screened via the 34 research trials reviewed. In couples where men were using antioxidants, a five-fold higher rate of live births were reported compared to individuals not using antioxidant supplementation. Moreover, men of couples using antioxidants reported a four-fold increase in conceiving compared to individuals not using antioxidant supplementation.

Of all 34 trials reviewed no side effects were observed, including the studies using vitamin E and zinc as a source of antioxidant. Given that this review did not compare different sources antioxidants against eachother, it remains unclear as to whether additional benefits exist beyond sperm quality.

Showell, M.G., Brown, J., Yazdani, A., Stankiewicz, MT & Hart, R.J. 2011. Antioxidants for male subfertility. Cochrane Database Systematic Review, 7, 1, 4701.

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