Male fertility: nuts rather than supplements boost virility.

The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology has been holding its annual meeting in Barcelona, when amongst the many presentations there was a notable boost for real food versus supplements. One presentation highlighted how a diet rich in nuts improves sperm count and motility, while another found that antioxidant supplements failed to improve sperm quality in infertile men.

The inclusion of nuts in a regular diet was found to significantly improve the quality and function of human sperm, according to results of a randomized trial which measured conventional semen parameters and molecular changes over a 14-week study period. The findings, say the investigators, ‘support a beneficial role for chronic nut consumption in sperm quality’ and reflect a research need for further male-specific dietary recommendations.

Based solely on the results of the study it’s too early for the researchers to say men hoping to conceive a baby — either naturally or with IVF – should add nuts to their everyday diet, but Dr Albert Salas-Huetos from the Human Nutrition Unit of the Universitat Rovira i Virgil in Reus, Spain was quoted as saying, “But evidence is accumulating in the literature that healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy dietary pattern might help conception — and of course, nuts are a key component of a Mediterranean healthy diet.”

In regard antioxidant supplementation in male factor infertility, despite many study results suggesting that antioxidants have a positive effect on abnormal sperm parameters associated with male infertility, a large US clinical trial found that an antioxidant formulation taken daily by the male partner for a minimum of three months made no difference to sperm concentration, motility or morphology, nor to the rate of DNA fragmentation. As a result, Professor Anne Steiner from the University of North Carolina and her colleagues concluded that “the results do not support the empiric use of antioxidant therapy for male factor infertility in couples trying to conceive naturally”.

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