Free radicals or reactive oxygen species are produced as byproducts of various metabolic processes occurring in the body. The main function of antioxidants is to eliminate these radicals as they are very detrimental to health. They can cause irreparable damage to the body cells and are known to accelerate the process of aging. Most of the vitamins and minerals act as antioxidants. Recent studies have shown that antioxidants like vitamin C and zinc have helped many couples to conceive.
These studies mainly focused on males, who were less fertile. They documented that males who took supplements containing antioxidants were four times more likely to get their partner pregnant as compared to those who did not take them. Trying for pregnancy at the fag end of the reproductive age is often a cause for subfertility, at least in the case of 2 out of every 40 men. Oxidative stress is one of the major reasons for a lowered sperm count and also the poor quality of the sperms.
Free radicals are known to interfere with the normal functioning of the cells, and even alter the cellular DNA, so as to give rise to structural abnormalities in the sperms, thereby killing them, immobilizing them, or making them sluggish. This oxidative stress can be reversed or prevented with the help of antioxidants. The use of antioxidants in keeping the sperms healthy is now being evaluated by clinical research. As the results of these trials are still to be approved by the FDA, oral supplements should be taken with utmost caution.
It is advisable to talk to your doctor before taking any health supplement, howsoever safe it may seem. Do not get carried away by advertisements and never experiment with over-the-counter products because, while these may be safer than prescription drugs, they are still not absolutely safe. Antioxidants present in natural sources offer the same benefits without any side-effects. Fruits such as cherries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, black currants, pomegranates, grapes, oranges, plums, pineapples, kiwi fruits, and grapefruits, and vegetables like kale, red cabbage, peppers, parsley, spinach, lemon, ginger, and red beets are rich in antioxidants. Apricots, prunes, and dates have antioxidant properties too.