Over the last decade, antioxidants have been gaining more and more popularity. Most nutritional guides are advising us to increase the intake of antioxidants in order to protect our body from external pollutants, radiation, to slow down aging and prevent skin cancer caused by UV rays. We all know antioxidants have an important role in a balanced nutrition, but what part do they play when it comes to male fertility?
What are antioxidants?
First and foremost, we need to understand what these substances are, how they interact with our body and what kind of effect can we expect from them.
Antioxidants are substances that protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that interact with the building blocks of our cells’ structure, damages them and causes them to change or lose their activity. In normal, physiological circumstances, our body maintains a balance – free radicals that our body produces while creating energy are instantaneously inactivated by protective antioxidative enzymes that circulate throughout our body.
Unfortunately, our bodies are bombarded with free radicals from our surroundings on an everyday basis. Some data says that each cell in our body suffers around 10,000 attacks every day. These attacks accelerate the ageing process in our body, but they can also cause mutations that can lead to cancer development.
Where do these free radicals come from? They usually come from exposure to environmental pollutants, different kinds of chemicals, pesticides, radiation, toxic fumes, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, certain medications, psychological stress, unbalanced diet with little or no physical activity and obesity.
The role of antioxidants in our body is to provide a defense system that inactivates free radicals, preventing them from causing damage. They function by creating strong bonds with free radicals. These strong bonds stabilise free radicals turning them into stable molecules that cannot cause any harm. In this process, antioxidants are the victims that are getting used up by creating stable compounds with radicals. Unless another antioxidant comes to the rescue and retrieve it. That is why it is so important to maintain a constant supply of antioxidants to our body.
What does that do for fertility?
So far, we have explained how free radicals cause damage to our cells. The same goes for reproductive cells – if free radicals attack the ovum or the sperm, they can cause the same kind of damage, causing these cells to grow old sooner and lose their function. And not only that, but free radicals can also attack the organs that create these reproductive cells – ovaries and testicles, as well as all the other organs and glands involved in the reproductive process. Once they get damaged, our reproductive organs cannot achieve their maximum potential – and that is when problems with fertility can arise.
Another very important piece of the fertility puzzle is the DNA material. DNA molecules are sort of a template used to create a new life. If these molecules suffer damage from free radicals, their damaged structure can cause a miscarriage, birth defects or developmental problems for the baby.
Pieces of the puzzle
- Coenzyme Q10 – this molecule is necessary for energy production in our body and it improves sperm function. Its levels decline as we grow older, so it is very important to have an appropriate intake of this substances, especially after the age of 35. It can be found in salmon and organ meats.
- Vitamin C – you can find plenty of this vitamin in fresh fruit and veggies such as red peppers, citrus fruit, cranberries, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, etc.
- Vitamin E – vitamin E or tocopherol is a powerful antioxidant. It can be found in cold pressed, raw vegetable oils, nuts, barley and green vegetables (such as kale).
- Selenium – this micronutrient has been associated with improved sperm motility. It can be found in organ meat, cod, halibut, tuna, salmon, sardines, etc.
What can you do to increase your antioxidants levels?
First and foremost, you need to increase the intake of antioxidants. On one hand, this can be achieved through a balanced nutrition, incorporating the foods that we mentioned above. It is important to include fruit and vegetables in your diet, no matter in which form – cooked, roasted, dry, blended, whatever suits you. Still, since many antioxidants can be destroyed by heat, you should try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables on everyday basis.
Since we do lose majority of antioxidants through cooking and packaging processes, a certain way of getting enough antioxidants is supplementation. Androferti offers all of the antioxidants that we’ve mentioned above, formulated in a perfect ratio in order to achieve the best results.
Increased intake is only one part of the see-saw – you need to decrease the amount of free radicals you’re being exposed to, as well. This means you should quit smoking, drinking, using illegal drugs and you need to protect yourself from being exposed to pollutants and radiation.
Once your antioxidant levels increase, chances are they will protect your body from any further damage that can be caused by free radicals. So, the sooner you start – the better!
Photo credit: DeSegura89 / Foter / CC BY