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Sperm Quality Improved by Healthy Nutrition

Update Date: Aug 27, 2012 08:26 AM EDT
Fathers
Humans inherit more than three times as many mutations from their fathers as from their mothers, and mutation rates increase with the father's age but not the mother's, researchers have found a way to combat this issue. (Photo : © yanlev / Fotolia)

Have no fear, Gentle(men) readers! While recent studies have shown that older men may run the risk of siring children with Autism and Schizophrenia, new research led by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) reveals a way to improve sperm quality: by ingesting healthy micro-nutrients.

"It appears that consuming more micro-nutrients such as vitamin C, E, folate and zinc helps turn back the clock for older men," reveals Andy Wyrobek of Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division.

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"We found that men 44 and older who consumed at least the recommended dietary allowance of certain micronutrients had sperm with a similar amount of DNA damage as the sperm of younger men."

In an analysis of 80 healthy male volunteers between 22 and 80 years of age, the scientists found that men older than 44 who consumed the most vitamin C had 20 percent less sperm DNA damage compared to men older than 44 who consumed the least vitamin C. The same was true for vitamin E, zinc, and folate.

"This means that men who are at increased risk of sperm DNA damage because of advancing age can do something about it. They can make sure they get enough vitamins and micronutrients in their diets or through supplements," adds Wyrobek.

As more men and women over 35 have children, public and prenatal health concerns are raised. Along with recent discoveries of increased risks of autism and schizophrenia in infants born of older men, previous research has discovered that older males are less fertile and are predicted to have more chromosomally defective pregnancies and a higher proportion of offspring with genetic defects.

"Our research points to a need for future studies to determine whether increased antioxidant intake in older fathers will improve fertility, reduce risks of genetically defective pregnancies, and result in healthier children," says Wyrobek. "The research also raises a broader question beyond sperm DNA: How might lifestyle factors, including higher intakes of antioxidants and micronutrients, protect somatic as well as germ cells against age-related genomic damage?"

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