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The Effect of Nutrients and Dietary Supplements on Sperm Quality Parameters: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials

Salas-Huetos A, Rosique-Esteban N, Becerra-Tomás N, Vizmanos B, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J (2018) Adv Nutr.  2018 Nov 1;9(6): 833-848. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmy057. 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here


Infertility, which affects ∼15% of the world's population, is a global public health issue recognized by the WHO. Therefore, it is of major clinical and public health importance to investigate whether modifiable lifestyle factors-such as stress, drug use, smoking, alcohol intake, and diet-may influence human fertility.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) from the MEDLINE-PubMed database was conducted to assess the effect of nutrients, dietary supplements, or food on sperm quality parameters. In total, 28 articles were included for qualitative analysis and 15 for quantitative meta-analysis. Total sperm concentrations [expressed as mean differences (MDs); 95% CIs, in spermatozoa (spz)/mL] were increased by selenium (3.91 × 106 spz/mL; 3.08, 4.73 spz/mL), zinc (1.48 × 106 spz/mL; 0.69, 2.27 spz/mL), omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids (10.98 × 106 spz/mL; 10.25, 11.72 spz/mL), and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) (5.93 × 106 spz/mL; 5.36, 6.51 spz/mL).

Sperm counts were increased by ω-3 fatty acids (18.70 × 106 spz/mL; 16.89, 20.51 spz/mL) and CoQ10 supplementation (10.15 × 106 spz/mL; 8.34, 11.97 spz/mL). Sperm total motility was increased by selenium (3.30%; 2.95%, 3.65%), zinc (7.03%; 6.03%, 8.03%), ω-3 fatty acids (7.55%; 7.09%, 8.01%), CoQ10 (5.30%; 4.98%, 5.62%), and carnitines (7.84%; 6.54%, 9.13%), whereas sperm progressive motility was increased only after supplementation with carnitines (7.45%; 6.24%, 8.67%). Finally, sperm morphology was enhanced by selenium (1.87%; 1.50%, 2.24%), ω-3 fatty acid (0.91%; 0.69%, 1.13%), CoQ10 (1.06%; 0.72%, 1.41%), and carnitine (4.91%; 3.68%, 6.15%) supplementation.

This meta-analysis of RCTs suggests that some dietary supplements could beneficially modulate sperm quality parameters and affect male fertility. However, results must be cautiously interpreted due to the limited sample size of the meta-analyzed studies and the considerable observed interstudy heterogeneity.


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