Semen quality in relation to antioxidant intake in a healthy male population

In this cross-sectional study of healthy young men, dietary intakes of the carotenoids b-carotene and lutein were associated with higher sperm motility, while lycopene intake was associated with better morphology.

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Piotr Zareba, M.D., M.P.H., Daniela S. Colaci, M.D., M.Sc., Myriam Afeiche, Ph.D., M.P.H., Audrey J. Gaskins, B.S.E., Niels Jørgensen, M.D., Ph.D., Jamie Mendiola, Ph.D., M.P.H., Shanna H. Swan, Ph.D., Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Sc.D.

Volume 100, Issue 6, Pages 1572-1579, December 2013



To assess the relationship between dietary antioxidant intake and semen quality in young healthy males.


Cross-sectional study.


University and college campuses in the Rochester, New York, area.


One hundred eighty-nine university-aged men.



Main Outcome Measure(s):

Semen volume, total sperm count, concentration, motility, total motile count, and morphology.


Progressive motility was 6.5 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.6, 12.3) percentage units higher among men in the highest quartile of β-carotene intake compared with men in the lowest quartile. Similar results were observed for lutein intake. Lycopene intake was positively related to sperm morphology. The adjusted percentages (95% CI) of morphologically normal sperm in increasing quartiles of lycopene intake were 8.0 (6.7, 9.3), 7.7 (6.4, 9.0), 9.2 (7.9, 10.5), and 9.7 (8.4, 11.0). There was a nonlinear relationship between vitamin C intake and sperm concentration, with men in the second quartile of intake having, on average, the highest sperm concentrations and men in the top quartile of intake having the lowest concentrations.


In a population of healthy young men, carotenoid intake was associated with higher sperm motility and, in the case of lycopene, better sperm morphology. Our data suggest that dietary carotenoids may have a positive impact on semen quality.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.