Antioxidants `boost male fertility`

Melbourne: Dietary antioxidants can boost male fertility -- at least in crickets, say scientists.

A new study by the University of Western Australia and Monash University has found a combination of antioxidants can provide the best weapon to boost the health of sperm in males, the `Ecology Letters` journal reported.

Lead scientist Leigh Simmons said highly reactive molecules, known as free radicals, were waste products of the cellular processes that fuel the body`s activities. "These free radicals damage cells if they are not neutralised by antioxidants," he said.

The scientists said sperm were known to be vulnerable to attack from free radicals, and the study has shown that the best defence against sperm damage was to take two antioxidants -- Vitamin E and beta-carotene.

Simmons said for most animals, it was typical for females to have the sperm of several males inside them at any given time, competing for the fertilisation of the eggs.

"It is fair to say that the sperm are at war within the female, and we can expect that the most competitive sperm will win the race to the egg. Our study showed the sperm of males who were fed antioxidants were easily able to outclass the sperm of rival males who were deprived of antioxidants," he said.


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