A study with 132 sub-fertile males showed that three months of supplementation with the nutraceutical combination resulted in improvements in measures of sperm quality by up to 215%.
The micronutrient combination was also associated with higher rates of conception, with 34 pregnancies reported during the six months that followed the study, compared with 11 in the control group, according to findings published in e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism.
The Austria-based researchers used the branded PROfertil supplement, containing L-carnitine, L-arginine, zinc, vitamin E, glutathione, selenium, coenzyme Q10 and folic acid, all of which are said to be required for “optimal sperm cell metabolism, DNA synthesis during spermatogenesis, proliferation and anti-oxidative protection.
“In consideration of their biochemical function, these ingredients are of great significance for male reproduction,” wrote researchers led by Martin Imhof from the Fertility Clinic IMI in Vienna.
Nutrients and fertility
Sub-fertility in men is reported to account for between 25 and 30% of all infertility causes, and is listed as one of the many reasons that birth rates are falling in Western countries.
In addition, about 50% of male fertility is the result of unknown causes (idiopathic), said the Austria-based researchers, and nutrition has been touted as a potential way of boosting the quality of sperm.
The new study assessed the potential of a “non-prescription nutraceutical containing eight micronutrients” on sperm quality in 132 sub-fertile males with a mean age of 34, while 73 sub-fertile men with a mean age of 38 participated as controls.
The nutraceutical group received supplements providing total daily doses of 440 mg L-carnitine, 250 mg L-arginine, 40 mg zinc, 120 mg vitamin E, 80 mg glutathione, 60 micrograms of selenium, 15 mg coenzyme Q10, and 800 micrograms of folic acid. The supplement was provided by Vienna-based Lenus Pharma GmbH.
Results showed that men receiving the active supplement displayed a 33% improvement in ejaculatory volume, a 215% improvement in sperm cell density, and a 23% improvement in total sperm motility.
“These increments were significantly higher than those observed among controls,” added Imhof and his co-workers.
Limitations and potential
“We recognize the non randomized placebo controlled design of our study as a limitation,” said the researchers. “However, a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study is currently on the way to support these preliminary results.
“Despite mentioned limitations and in light of the fact that therapies for sub-fertile men are still missing, the investigated compound is a promising therapeutic approach, improving sperm parameters and enabling natural conception for couples with idiopathic male infertility,” they concluded.
Source: e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism
Published online 3 December 2011, doi:10.1016/j.eclnm.2011.11.002
“Improvement of sperm quality after micronutrient supplementation”
Authors: M. Imhof, J. Lackner, M. Lipovac, P. Chedraui, C. Riedl