Healthcare

Sperm quality could be improved by dietary supplement from tomatoes, study suggests

According to a study published in European Journal of Nutrition, dietary supplement from tomatoes could have a positive impact on sperm quality.

The study by University of Sheffield scientists was the first ever double-blind randomised controlled trial to assess the impact of giving men a dietary compound called LactoLycopene. The study’s findings could transform the outlook for men with fertility problems and lead to better ways to reduce the damaging impact of modern living on reproductive health. The team discovered it is possible to increase the proportion of healthy shaped sperm (sperm morphology) and boost ‘fast swimming’ sperm by around 40 per cent.

Lycopene can be found in some fruits and vegetables, but the main source in the diet is from tomatoes. Lycopene is a pigment that gives tomatoes their red colour, but dietary Lycopene is poorly absorbed by the human body, so the compound used for the trial was a commercially available formulation called LactoLycopene; designed by FutureYou Cambridge to improve bioavailability.

The study involved 60 healthy volunteers aged 19 to 30. Half took LactoLycopene supplements and the other half took identical placebo (dummy pills) every day for 12 weeks. Neither the researchers nor the volunteers knew who was receiving the LactoLycopene treatment and who was receiving the placebo. Sperm and blood samples were collected at the beginning and end of the trial.

The work so far has not investigated the mechanism for Lycopene’s beneficial action but it is a known powerful antioxidant, so is potentially inhibiting the damage caused by oxidation of sperm which is a known cause of male fertility problems. Scientists believes this antioxidant effect is key in producing the improvements in sperm quality seen in the trial, and is hoping to investigate this more.

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