Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Boosting Male Fertility Rates Naturally: Nuts for Your Nuts
Dr. Wendie Robbins of the University of California at Los Angeles and her collaborators conducted a study of healthy, young men aged 21 to 35 to see if plant-derived essential fatty acids may improve male fertility. The researchers recruited 117 young men, and asked 59 to eat 75 grams (a little under 3 oz) of walnuts every day, and the other 58 to avoid eating walnuts or any other kind of tree nuts for the duration of the study.
At the beginning of the study and at the end of 12 weeks, study volunteers were asked for semen samples. Men in the walnuts group had semen that showed better morphology and greater vitality ("swimming ability") after eating walnuts for 12 weeks.
The researchers also noted that bloodstream concentrations of omega-6 (pro-inflammatory) but not omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) essential fatty acids were elevated in the group of men who ate walnuts. Prior research had failed to find a beneficial effect for semen production when men were asked to take omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements, and when men were asked to eat foods rich in other healthy fats. This study seems to suggest that there is something about inflammation that powers sperm to travel from the cervix to the opening of the Fallopian tubes after intercourse.
The researchers also found a reduction in sperm aneuploidy, abnormal chromosome count, in the sperm of men who had eaten walnuts.
This study suggests that eating walnuts may help healthy young men become fathers. Whether eating walnuts every day would have the same beneficial effects in men who have been diagnosed with common causes of male infertility is an open question.
Photo credit: J. Dsncn, via Wikimedia Commons.