The Sexual Benefits of Antioxidants for Men
Regular consumption of antioxidants, such as selenium, may provide sexual health benefits for men.
Antioxidants are substances that aid in reducing cell damage, increasing fertility and maintaining overall health by inhibiting oxidation.
"The main role of antioxidants is to neutralize or scavenge damaging free radicals or reactive oxygen species," said Andrew Neville, N.D., an adrenal fatigue specialist at Clymer Healing Center in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, in an email conversation.
Examples of antioxidants include fat-soluble vitamins such as A, C and E; the minerals zinc and selenium; and carotenoids, which include beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
OK, so where can people find these important compounds? Some of the best antioxidant-rich foods include:
- Whole grains
When consumed in higher doses, antioxidants can provide abundant benefits that help men improve their health and sex life.
Why the focus on antioxidants?
Antioxidants began trending in the 1990s. Scientists discovered the substances could help neutralize free radicals, which are molecules that can harm the body when they are present in high doses. Large amounts of free radicals can lead to heart disease, certain cancers and other chronic conditions.
A somewhat popular misconception says antioxidants can prevent disease. Research suggests, however, that the compounds only assist with reducing oxidative stress. And oxidative stress can lead to cellular and tissue damage, and has been shown to underlie a wide variety of diseases, including heart diseases, lung disease, infertility, cancers and dementia, according to Paul Turek, M.D., a urologist in California and a medical advisor for Progyny, a provider of employee fertility benefits.
For men, consuming certain antioxidants can improve their health and sex life, and potentially benefit their reproductive function.
Male infertility affects 2.5 percent to 15 percent of men worldwide. Oxidative stress can lead to infertility issues, such as reduced sperm motility and DNA damage, and the increased chance of pregnancy loss and genetic diseases.
Male infertility factors account for up to half of all infertility cases.
"The role of antioxidants in fertility is a little clearer, since a large chunk of male infertility is due to oxidative stress," Turek said in an email conversation. "The belief is that when oxidative stress gets out of balance in these processes is when infertility results."
Additionally, oxidative stress can contribute to limited sperm production, which antioxidants can help fight against in the body. Restricted blood flow to the penis and testicles can affect sperm production and motility, as well as libido and testosterone levels, according to Neville.
"A reduction of oxidative stress and free radicals through increasing antioxidant status has been shown to improve all aspects of male sexual function," he added.
Sexually Beneficial Antioxidants
No one should say one antioxidant or another will absolutely fix something or bestow specific benefits, but some research is suggestive. Clinical findings indicate three antioxidants may help improve a man's sex life.
Also known as ascorbic acid, this water-soluble vitamin is found in most citrus fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C helps men release nitric oxide, a shortage of which can cause erectile dysfunction (ED). It can't release nitric oxide directly, but vitamin C supports the biochemical pathways nitric oxide needs for release, said Abbas Kanani, M.R.Pharm.S., the superintendent pharmacist at Chemist Click, an online pharmacy in the United Kingdom, in an email conversation.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant created naturally in the body and found in foods such as fish and nuts. The highest levels of this antioxidant are in the respiratory and digestive systems. Consumption of CoQ10 can lead to improved heart function and increased blood flow to the penis, reducing the chances of ED.
Glutathione, or GSH, is composed of glycine, cysteine and glutamic acid. The antioxidant is produced in the liver and found in green vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, okra and broccoli, and other sulfur-rich foods. These sources of antioxidants aid in sperm cell production and oxidative stress reduction, Kanani explained.
How to boost antioxidant intake?
Maintaining a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the best way for men to increase their antioxidant levels.
"Each color has a slightly unique antioxidant capacity, so it is best to consume a variety over time," Neville said.
If a supplement is your preferred method, especially one that combines multiple prostate-friendly herbs in one capsule, Prostate Health vitamins from Giddy Health are for you. Utilizing saw palmetto, pygeum and stinging nettle, this supplement is formulated to help manage prostate size and maintain a healthy urinary flow. Stinging nettle in particular has been a staple in herbal medicine since ancient times, and contains an array of vitamins and minerals that act as antioxidants to defend against free radicals.
High levels of oxidative stress can contribute to reduced sperm production and ED, leading to potential infertility issues among men. A higher antioxidant intake can reduce the risk of certain health issues and chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, while also providing health benefits and playing a positive role in men's sex lives.