The quality of semen depends fundamentally on three factors: the number of sperm per cm3, its mobility and its morphology. In addition to all this, it is also important that your DNA is not fragmented, which can occur for different reasons, such as exposure to toxic substances such as tobacco, stress or food.
In recent times different studies have been carried out to determine the way in which the diet determines the seminal quality and, therefore, male fertility. It has been shown, for example, that saturated fat-rich diets reduce sperm concentration in semen by 41%. On the contrary, a diet rich in omega-3 essential acids affects their better morphology.
But others show the role of antioxidants and different vitamins, both in terms of preserving the integrity of sperm DNA and its mobility, morphology and concentration. In fact, these nutrients participate in the production of enzymes that participate in DNA synthesis, sperm maturation and testis development.
In general terms, the oxidative process that accompanies aging has a degradation effect on the integrity of DNA, so it is logical that the usual consumption of antioxidants preserves it avoiding its fragmentation. In this sense, the most important studies fundamentally highlight the role of three antioxidants in improving both mobility and sperm morphology:
- Beta carotene (present in carrots, spinach and lettuce).
- Lutein (found in foods such as spinach and lettuce).
- Lycopene (characteristic of tomato and all its derivatives.
Another interesting aspect found in some study is that the consumption of high doses of vitamin C reduces seminal volume, but increases sperm concentration and improves mobility. However, it seems that vitamins A and E do not change sperm quality, although some publications suggest that it does.
But there are other nutrients that also affect the quality of sperm:
- Folic acid: a poor diet in this nutrient favors DNA fragmentation.
- Zinc and Selenium: the first also reduces possible DNA alterations and the second maintains sperm concentration and normalcy.
- L-Carnitine and Coenzyme Q10: they are also antioxidants and are present in fruits and vegetables.
There is an important factor to consider when assessing all this information. The studies that provide these data have been carried out analyzing the diet of the individuals who have participated in them, but none of them determines what are the effects on sperm quality in the medium and long term when the usual diet is modified to incorporate these nutrients in the recommended amounts. However, there are more studies that indicate that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables clearly improves semen quality.
Likewise, some of these studies suggest that their contribution to sperm quality is derived from diet and not from vitamin supplements, although this is an issue still under discussion.
Finally, it should be noted that what is clearly demonstrated is that smoking, habitual consumption of alcohol and caffeine negatively affect male fertility, to the point of a diet rich in antioxidants may not be enough to counteract this effect.