The Power of Antioxidants
It's a well known fact - antioxidants help promote health by reversing or stopping the effects of oxidation in the body. Oxidation is caused by free radicals that are released in our bodies when cells use oxygen, including such functions as metabolism. Free radicals are byproducts of the body and are known to be implicated in a broad variety of illnesses and diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and now - infertility.
Oxidation - The Good and The Bad
The body uses oxygen to burn glucose, thus providing energy. We need energy to live, yet, as energy is produced in the body there is also a level of damage that is done as well. When energy burns, it creates heat within the cells. Prolonged heat will burn into the cells and create more damage - manifesting as free radicals. The process is known as oxidation, a normal process that happens when the body is stimulated. Oxidation becomes problematic when the body is under extreme or prolonged stress which causes cellular damage serious enough to affect the body's ability to function. Cell recovery depends upon relaxation and the right nutrients to repair damaged cells. Antioxidants provide the necessary nutrients to repair cellular damage. They can be found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables as well as in supplement form.
Research Using Antioxidants
Recent research in New Zealand resulted in establishing the crucial role antioxidants play in helping male infertility. There are a number of causes of infertility in men, some of them are environmental. However, one cause that is believed to account for about 30 to 80% of all cases is oxidation. It seems logical that antioxidants would benefit this cause of infertility.
The Research Results Are Promising
The infertility study involved nearly 3,000 couples that were dealing with fertility issues. Thirty-four trials were run with half of the men receiving an antioxidant supplement and the other have a placebo. The couples where men took the antioxidant supplements had more pregnancies and more live births. The pregnancy rate was four times higher than in the couples where the men did not take antioxidant supplements. In three of the trials that reported live births, there was a live birth rate five times higher than that of the couples where men did not take antioxidants.
It is thought that a lot of male infertility is due to the damaging effect of oxidative stress on sperm cells, which lowers the numbers and quality of the sperm. The study indicated that antioxidants could help balance this problem.
A Little Caution
The New Zealand team of researchers did not commit to saying that antioxidants actually improve fertility. More research is needed. There was a positive response to antioxidants - and there is no evidence that they cause any harm.