Antioxidants vitamin E and beta-carotene help maintain male fertility and offer the best protection against sperm damage.
In a study of crickets, researchers found that a combination of these antioxidants provided to be the best weapon to boost the health of the sperm.
Study author Maria Almbro, from the University of Western Australia (UWA), said sperms were known to be vulnerable to attack from highly reactive molecules known as free radicals. They damage sperm cells, unless neutralised by antioxidants.
Almbro’s colleague Leigh Simmons said for most animals, it was typical for females to have the sperm of several males inside them at any given time, competing for the fertilisation of eggs, reports the journal Ecology Letters.
“It is fair to say that the sperm are at war within the female, and we can expect that the most competitive sperm will win the race to the egg,” Simmons was quoted as saying by a UWA statement.
“Our study showed that the sperm of males who were fed antioxidants were easily able to outclass the sperm of rival males who were deprived of antioxidants,” he added.
“What we have done is provide a definitive experimental confirmation of this, not in a test tube, but in a real living animal, showing that antioxidants are profoundly important in deciding the outcomes of reproduction in males,” said study co-author Damian Dowling from Monash.