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Understanding Male Fertility Antioxidants

If you want to boost your fertility and sperm quality, antioxidants play an important role. In this blog article, you can therefore find a list of the right fertility antioxidants for men.

Our lifestyle and habits affect our health and fertility. Factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity, alcohol, tobacco use, pollutants, chemicals, and even psychological stress, have been associated with a decline in sperm function of men [1].

But why are these lifestyle factors significant and what do they have in common?

The answer is oxidative stress!

Oxidation in the human body is a result of the above mentioned unhealthy lifestyle factors. This results in a negative impact on sperm production and sperm quality.

Research shows a link between oxidative stress and many health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, respiratory diseases, and infertility [2]. The male reproductive system is especially susceptible to oxidation. This may be because the mature sperm cells don’t possess any repair mechanisms like other types of cells.

However, our body has a defence system to protect us from the effects of oxidative stress, called antioxidants. These can be obtained from food or supplements and have a positive effect on sperm quality [3][4].


What are the best fertility antioxidants for men?

This is still an ongoing question that many men and fertility doctors struggle with.

In the last few years, many studies have investigated the effect of various antioxidant compounds on sperm quality. In a recent Cochrane meta-analysis (the ‘gold standard’ in research methodology), researchers compared 48 trials. The conclusion: supplementation with antioxidants is safe and can increase the chances of live birth by 79%.

The volume of online information on male antioxidants can be overwhelming and confusing. How do you know which antioxidants can improve fertility? The ExSeed-team have therefore prepared a list with some of the most researched antioxidants and their effect on male fertility. Here’s the complete list of the right fertility antioxidants for men:


L-Carnitine is one of the most well-studied nutrients in regard to male fertility treatment. You can find L-Carnitine in animal products. It is derived from the synthesis of the amino acids lysine and methionine.

Furthermore, L-Carnitine can act as an energy source to spermatozoa, and oral supplementation has been shown to improve semen quality [5]. A combination of L-Carnitine and another form called L-acetyl Carnitine (LAC) has also produced significant improvements in motility [6] [7].

Co-enzyme Q10

CoQ10 seems to be very important because it can protect the sperm cell membranes, which are very vulnerable to oxidation. CoQ10’s main function is to transfer electrons to the mitochondria, the “power plant” of the cell.

Supplementation with CoQ10 appears to lower oxidative stress and improve sperm count and motility in men with infertility [8] [9] [10]. One of the downsides of CoQ10 is that it’s expensive to buy the compound.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a very strong antioxidant compound and includes two categories of compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols. In terms of fertility, vitamin E can reduce the free radical content in the testes [11] [12]. Several studies have evaluated the efficacy of vitamin E alone, but also in combination with other substances. These are for example vitamin C, Zinc, and Selenium. They demonstrate significant reduction of DNA fragmentation and improvements in sperm motility, and even live birth rates [13] [14] [15].


Lycopene is an antioxidant which belongs to the carotenoid family and specially tomatoes have a high concentration of Lycopene. In the human body, Lycopene is highly concentrated in the reproductive organs, including the testes and seminal fluid. So, decreased levels of lycopene are linked to sub-fertility. There are some studies suggesting lycopene can improve sperm health parameters and can increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy through IVF treatment with lycopene supplementation [16] [17], though research is still on-going.

N-Acetyl Cysteine

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine. Treatment with NAC improves sperm volume, motility, and viscosity of semen as well as greater resistance to oxidative stress. For example, combining supplementation with NAC and Selenium had a significant improvement in sperm concentration and motility [18] [19].


How much should I take?

We can conclude that while supplementation with antioxidants is safe, it does not mean ‘the more the better’. So, our recommendation is that you should never exceed the recommended doses of the supplements you are taking. Remember also to never combine too many antioxidants at a time as this increases the risk of side effects.

This table summarizes the acceptable doses of each compound that you should be getting:

Compound Recommended dose
L-Carnitine 400-1,500 mg
Co-enzyme Q10 50-100 mg
Vitamin E 15-30 mg
Lycopene 5-15 mg
L-acetyl Cysteine 600-1,200 mg





Remember that you need to continue with the supplementation for at least 90 days in order to see results. That’s because it’s how long it takes for the body to create and mature new sperm cells.

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