Antioxidants – Important dietary supplements for fertility
Antioxidants are molecules that fight against free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are compounds that could cause harm if their levels become too high in your body. Free radicals are associated with many diseases, including diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, and infertility.
How do free radicals act?
Free radicals are produced all the time in your body. Without antioxidants, free radicals will cause severe damage very rapidly and even death.
However, free radicals also serve important essential functions for health. For example, your immunity cells use free radicals to fight infection. As a result, your body needs to maintain a certain balance of free radicals and antioxidants.
When the amount of free radicals becomes greater than the amount of antioxidants, it can lead to a condition called “oxidative stress”. Prolonged oxidative stress can damage your DNA and other important molecules in your body. On occasion, it can even lead to cell death. Damage to your DNA increases the risk of cancer, and a number of scientists even postulate that it plays a central role in the aging process.
Some lifestyle habits, tension, and environmental factors are known to stimulate the formation of an excess of free radicals and stress, including:
- Air pollution
- Cigarette smoking
- Alcohol consumption
- High levels of sugar in the blood
- A high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Excessive intake of iron, magnesium, copper, or zinc
- Too much or too little oxygen in your body
- Intensive, continuous physical activity, causing tissue damage
- Lack of antioxidants
Prolonged oxidative stress leads to the increased risk of negative health results, such as cardiac and blood vessel diseases, certain types of cancer, and infertility.
Below is a list of antioxidants that are essential for fertility:
Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant. Studies show that it protects the egg membrane against damage by free radicals and is beneficial in case of infertility problems. Vitamin E is also used as a blood thinner, and therefore helps with blood flow to the uterus and the ovaries. Studies also confirm its contribution to thickening of the endometrium.
According to research, when the vitamin E supplement is administered for 12 weeks to woman with implantation problems, there is a positive improvement in the thickness of the endometrium. A study done in 2010 shows that vitamin E and/or L-arginine can help to thicken the endometrium of woman who have a thin endometrium. Researchers wanted to show that these supplements can increase the flow of blood to the uterus.
Vitamin E administered in doses of 600 milligrams a day increased the flow of blood in the uterus among 72% of the subjects, and the thickness of the endometrium among 52% of the subjects.
Six grams of L-arginine a day increased the flow of blood to the uterus among 89% of the subjects, and the thickness of the endometrium among 67% of the subjects.
In summary, vitamin E protects the cell membranes and prevents their aging as well as slows down the aging of the eggs, In addition, vitamin E helps to achieve hormonal balance, mainly in the case of infertility problems.
The presence of the vitamin in the body is important for endocrine regeneration (the group of glands responsible for the secretion of hormones into the blood), for the proper secretion of hormones in the body, and even for the hormonal strengthening of the endometrium, which should make it easier to implant the fertilized egg.
Similarly, vitamin E eases the blood flow to the uterus. Implantation of the embryo in the uterus and its proper development are dependent to a large degree on the blood flow to this area. The blood carries hormones vital for implantation and for protecting the fertilized eggs in the uterus, and later on, it carries nutrients to the embryo. Similarly, the proper flow of blood affects proper ovulation. Vitamin E aids the hardening and widening of the blood vessels, making sure that there is sufficient blood flow to the uterus and to the female reproductive organs.
Vitamin E reduces the risk of miscarriage. In lab tests done on rats, it was found that a regular intake of vitamin E reduces the risk of miscarriage and early births. The reason is that, here again, the normal flow of blood helps the body to implant the pregnancy and to sustain it.
It can be found in various vegetable oils, as well as in nuts and seeds, avocado, and other foods. Due to the complexity of its absorption in the body, it is recommended that women of childbearing age and women who are fertility-challenged take vitamin E regularly, in the form of pills, jelly capsules, or powder to significantly increase the levels of the vitamin in the body.
Vitamin C is a very important antioxidant that protects the immune system and the eggs against oxidative stress. This vitamin helps to absorb iron, reduces cellular damage throughout the body, and also bolsters the production of progesterone.
In men, vitamin C improves the quality of the sperm and its motility.
Vitamin C can be found in red peppers, strawberries, citrus fruit, kiwi, tomatoes, mango, cherries, and more.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
This supplement has antioxidant properties and can contribute to the quality of the egg. It is also important because it can be found naturally in mitochondria, where it helps to manufacture energy.
Animal studies have found that this supplement protects the mitochondria from the effects of aging.
When someone takes alpha lipoic acid, their general level of antioxidants in their blood increases significantly and there is an increase in the activity of antioxidant enzymes.
There is proof that this supplement boosts fertility, for example, studies have found that this antioxidant can improve egg maturation and viability of the embryo.
For women with polycystic ovaries syndrome, the benefit of alpha lipoic acid is especially evident. Researchers have found that the combination of alpha lipoic acid and the myo-inositol supplement is preferable over myo-inositol alone and results in a higher number of good embryos after IVF.
In another study, it was reported that in women with polycystic ovaries syndrome who took the alpha lipoic acid supplement together with myo-inositol for six months, the hormonal imbalance that is characteristic of polycystic ovaries syndrome disappeared. Another study found that women with polycystic ovaries syndrome who took the supplement improved their sensitivity to insulin and began to ovulate regularly.
Alpha lipoic acid also reduces inflammation and can be effective among women with endometriosis and repeated miscarriages. Studies show that inflammation is one of the main ways that endometriosis causes infertility. A new study indicates that inflammations also contribute to unexplained miscarriages.
Alpha lipoic acid can reduce the level of thyroid hormones so if you have thyroid problems, you must not take this supplement before consulting a doctor.
Alpha lipoic acid also improves the levels of sugar among diabetics so diabetics must be under medical supervision.
N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is another antioxidant that contributes to egg quality and to fertility in general.
This antioxidant helps to cleanse the body of toxins that act against the effects of aging and oxidative stress on the quality of the egg.
To remove any doubt, the contents of this article are intended to serve as a general overview only, and the information in it does not relate to a product nor is it intended to provide guidance, it does not comprise a certified medical recommendation, and it is not intended to instruct the public or to be used by it as advice, instruction, or a recommendation for the use, modification, or stopping use of any medication, and does not comprise a substitute for personal or other medical advice. Pregnant women, lactating women, children, and anyone taking prescription drugs must consult a doctor before using dietary supplements.