Many couples want nothing more than a baby. But more and more often, pregnancy just doesn’t happen. There can be many reasons for this. From hormonal problems of the woman and the sperm quality of the man to various complications during pregnancy. Antioxidants offer a way to increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy. They can both improve sperm quality, shorten the time to a successful pregnancy and prevent miscarriages.
Autor: Dr. med. W. Tönnes
Antioxidants for healthy sperm
In order for new life to be created, the female egg must be fertilised by the male sperm. To do this, as many motile sperm as possible must reach the egg cell as quickly as possible. But this is precisely the point where many couples fail in their desire to have children: either the sperm are too immobile, not available in sufficient quantity or both together. As many as 40 percent of couples with an unfulfilled desire to have children are affected by this problem.
Studies have now shown that the quality of the male sperm is linked to nutrition, among other things. The more antioxidants in the form of folic acid, zinc and vitamin E the men consumed, the more agile their “swimmers” were and the more sperm were found in the ejaculate, which in turn greatly increases the probability of pregnancy.
Researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey also found in a meta-study that men who were being treated for an unfulfilled desire to have children and were also taking antioxidants were four times more likely to have a successful pregnancy with their partners. In addition, these men were almost five times more likely to have a healthy pregnancy and take home a healthy baby.
Knowing that sperm can be damaged by severe oxidative stress, this result is not surprising. This is because antioxidants can minimise this oxidative damage and thus ensure healthy and motile sperm, which in turn produce healthy children.
The vital substances with antioxidant effects include not only folic acid, zinc and vitamin E, but also beta-carotene and vitamin C, which were examined in the studies presented below.
Pregnant faster with antioxidants
Now the question arises whether antioxidants can also increase fertility in women. A recent study concluded that there is only a weak direct connection between female fertility and the intake of antioxidants. Nevertheless, an additional supply of antioxidants seems to offer some great benefits.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, for example, studied 437 women between the ages of 21 and 39 who had no medical reason for an unfullfilled desire to have children, but who still did not become pregnant. The infertility was therefore neither caused by poor sperm quality in the man nor by known problems in the woman. This medically unexplained unfulfilled desire to have children is responsible for as many as 20 percent of all infertility treatments.
The scientists now observed that women with a BMI (body mass index) of less than 25 became pregnant more quickly if they took more vitamin C. The average daily intake was 136 mg. On average, the women took 136 mg of vitamin C daily in the form of food supplements.
Women with a BMI over 25, on the other hand, became pregnant more quickly with an increased beta-carotene or vitamin A intake – with a daily intake of 1,400 IU of vitamin A on average.
The researchers also investigated the influence of antioxidants in different age groups. They found that women under 35 also benefited from an increased beta-carotene or vitamin A intake. Again, an average of 1,400 IU of vitamin A daily was needed to increase the chance of pregnancy.
Women over 35 years of age, on the other hand, became pregnant more quickly with increased vitamin E intake (on average 33 mg vitamin E per day).
How can these findings be put into practice? If, for example, you have a BMI of less than 25 and are under 35 years old, this means that you should pay attention to an increased supply of vitamin C and beta-carotene in order to get pregnant quickly. If, on the other hand, you are over 35 years old, then you would benefit from an increased vitamin C intake and an increased vitamin E intake if your BMI is under 25 – at least according to this study.
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