Research shows that the trace element selenium benefits the structural integrity of sperm. It also helps to protect sperm from oxidative stress.
Selenium (Se) is a trace element and essential nutrient for humans. It helps to protect the cell DNA from oxidative stress, supports DNA synthesis, and has a role in thyroid hormone metabolism. By extension, Selenium is therefore also important for male fertility.
Selenium supports sperm structural integrity
Research by Hansen and Deguchi in the mid 1990’s has highlighted the importance of selenium benefits for healthy sperm development and function1. Selenium is present in the testes in the form of PHGPx (phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase). Another form of selenium, selenoprotein P is involved in selenium transport and storage. Selenoprotein P helps to supply the testes with PHGPx. There were 112 participants in the study. Of the participants, 75 were infertile and 37 fertile. Semen samples were analysed to determine sperm parameters.
The study found that
- PHGPx activity in infertile men was significantly lower than in fertile men (93.2 ± 60.1 units/mg sperm protein compared with 187.5 ± 55.3 units/mg).
- Oligoasthenozoospermic specimens were particularly low in PHGPx (61.93 ± 45.42 units/mg; P < 0.001 compared with asthenozoospermic and control samples).
- PHGPx activity positively correlated with sperm viability, forward motility, and morphological integrity.
- Motility declined faster with declining PHGPx content.
This study suggests that PHGPx is indispensable in human males for supporting spermatozoa structural integrity and is a co-determinant is sperm viability and motility. This highlights the importance of adequate selenium intake to support healthy male fertility. PHGPx is a form of glutathione. This is an important amino acid and essential antioxidant. PHGPx reduces oxidative stress, helping to protect sperm integrity.
Dietary sources of selenium
There are many foods that contain selenium. However, a variable availability of selenium within soil can lead to a reduction in its availability within food. Refined foods are further especially depleted in this trace element.
Good selenium sources include shellfish (oysters, scallops, and lobster), fish (mackerel, flounder, tuna, and herring), sunflower seeds, whole grains, wheat germ, liver, Brazil nuts, and garlic.
Selenium improves sperm quality by protecting its natural structural integrity. The antioxidant activity of PHGPx minimises DNA damage caused by oxidative stress. Selenium also promotes healthy sperm motility. Selenium supplementation may therefore assist in improving fertility.
Using Selenium to boost male fertility
Selenium is a powerful male fertility enhancing nutrient, but it is also just one of several so called fertility-neutraceuticals. Clinical research studies have consistently shown that
We have therefore compared all of the top male fertility combination supplements in a transparent, side-by-side evaluation.
Sperm motility-enhancing male fertility nutrients
- “Hansen, J. and Deguchi, Y. (1996). Male fertility is linked to the selenoprotein phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, Volume 37, Issue 1, (pp.19-30).” ↩
- “http://humupd.oxfordjournals.org/content/14/3/243.full” ↩
- “Imhof, Martin et al., “Improvement of sperm quality after micronutritient supplementation” ↩