Infertility affects around one in seven couples. WHO considers it a global health problem. One of the leading causes is impaired semen quality, and Danish, Norwegian, and German men have lower sperm quality than any other male populations. Impaired sperm quality may be a result of an unhealthy lifestyle with stress, tobacco, stimulants, and hormone-disrupting compounds. On the other hand, scientists from Mexico have found that supplements of zinc, selenium, Q10, and omega-3 have an effect on the number of sperm cells and their quality. Other studies show that zinc and selenium protect sperm cells and are important for testosterone levels.
Many young men have poor sperm quality and the underlying cause is often unknown. The health of sperm cells depends a lot on omega-3 but a large number of men lack these essential fatty acids. Fish oil supplements have been shown to improve several sperm parameters, according to a large Danish study that is published in JAMA. The scientists behind the study suggest that men may benefit from taking fish oil supplements to improve their fertility and increase the odds of successful conception. However, they also point out that it typically takes one to two months for the optimal effect to show, and you must continue taking the fish oil supplement to maintain the results.
- but dietary and lifestyle changes make a difference
Approximately one in seven couple is childless. Although there can be many underlying causes, poor sperm quality is an increasing problem. It may be caused by a lack of certain nutrients and exposure to different environmental factors, but, fortunately, it possible to improve sperm quality and increase the chances of conception by means of relevant dietary adjustments and the use of specific supplements. New research shows that epigenetic factors (factors that affect the environment of the sperm cell) determine sperm health and are therefore crucial for activating the genes of the sperm cell so the fetus can develop.
Q10 has a key role in the cellular energy turnover and also serves as an antioxidant that protects the body against oxidative stress. Disruptions in the energy-producing mitochondria in cells and oxidative stress may also be involved in different types of hormone disturbances that affect the thyroid gland, pancreas, sex glands, pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. In a new review article that is published in Antioxidants, scientists look closer at Q10’s role with particular focus on hyperthyroidism, type 2 diabetes, and poor sperm quality, all of which can be corrected through supplementation.
Selenium is a trace element that is found in all the cells of the body. An adult contains around 10-15 mg of selenium with the largest concentrations being found in the liver, kidneys, thyroid gland, sexual gland (gonads), and semen. Selenium supports over 30 different selenoproteins that have a number of different functions. Among these are five glutathione peroxidases (GSH-Px) that function as antioxidants, and three deiodinases that regulate the metabolism. Of all minerals, selenium is the one that holds the greatest antioxidant potential. It works in close collaboration with vitamin E to prevent oxidative damage to cell membranes, lipids, and DNA. Selenium and sulfur bear great chemical resemblances, but sulfur is not an antioxidant and has other functions in the body.
An international team of researchers has just completed a huge study of the possible link between maternal DNA, selenium deficiency, and preterm labor. Earlier studies have shown that women with low blood selenium have an increased risk of preterm birth and that selenium supplementation may lower that risk. A problem in that respect is that climate changes and soil depletion may increase the risk of selenium deficiencies, especially in Europe.
Selenium is a trace element that supports over 30 essential selenoproteins, which have numerous functions. For the first time ever, a study of Mexican children reveals that lack of selenium delays the growth of pubic hairs and the development of sex organs in boys. It is a known fact that the agricultural soil in Mexico is low in selenium and that affects the entire food chain. The same is the case in Europe, for which reason farmers for decades have supplemented livestock with selenium as a way of improving fertility and preventing a number of deficiency problems. The big question is to what extent can selenium deficiency problems explain the impaired sperm quality that has been observed among young men? An estimated 500 million to one billon people worldwide get too little selenium from their diet.
Poor sperm quality, which is a bit of a taboo, is one of the main causes of involuntary infertility. Evidence suggests that Western diets can impair sperm quality, whereas the Mediterranean diet does the opposite. Vegan diets are somewhat controversial, according to a review article published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Previous research has shown that supplementation with selenium, zinc, fish oil, and coenzyme Q10 can improve sperm cell quality.
In May 2017, new data linking vitamin D and fertility was presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology (ECE) in Lisbon. The new findings contribute to our understanding of vitamin D’s impact on male testosterone levels and of our knowledge about whether vitamin D supplements may actually improve fertility in both sexes. Involuntary infertility, a widespread problem, may be a result of many factors, but if the reason is a vitamin D deficiency, it is easy to treat with increased exposure to sunlight and the use of supplements to keep vitamin D levels optimal all year round.