Antioxidants in a man’s diet are thought to prevent damage to sperm in semen. Antioxidant use has been found to improve a sperm movement (motility) and shape (morphology) which are important for a man’s fertility. A review of multiple studies showed a significant increase in pregnancy rates and live birth rates with antioxidants, although only a few trials described live births and they could not tell exactly which antioxidants would be most helpful. Few studies have looked at food intake and its effect on male sperm quality.
A recent study in Fertility and Sterility journal from multiple groups including Harvard and Mount Sinai in NY looked at food intake in young healthy men and showed that antioxidants such as beta carotene (carrots, lettuce, spinach) and lutein (spinach, lettuce) benefit sperm motility. Lycopene (from tomato products) was shown to benefit sperm shape. Based on nearly 200 healthy young men in New York who completed food survey questionnaires, this study shows that these antioxidants may be very important for sperm quality. Most studies looking at antioxidants in male fertility lack a placebo (sugar pill) group, so more studies of more men taking antioxidants are needed to draw firm conclusions.