We often think of antioxidants as awesome for our health. They're great for our hearts and our skin. They're also extra great for our ovaries and sperm, which means they're super awesome for makin' babies!
Oxidative stress causes free radicals. These are little molecules that go around bumping into the cells nearby and causing them damage. It's a bit more complex on a biochemistry level, but you get the point and it's not a good one. Stress, high blood sugar, and smoking are probably the worst offenders when it comes to oxidative damage. I've talked a lot about stress in previous posts, so I'll give my spiel on smoking here: don't smoke. (That's the whole spiel.)
Unfortunately, we're all subjected to free radicals as our body normally does produce some, and the environment we're in doesn't often help. Here's where antioxidants come to the rescue! They sop up those free radicals bumping around and prevent any damage they can cause. We get a lot of these from an oh-so-healthy diet, rich in brightly-coloured fruits and veggies. These will help you age gracefully and keep your cardiovascular system in tip-top shape (with healthy exercise, of course).
How does this all hinder fertility? That super space-age-looking blob in the picture is one of your mitochondria. These are the little powerhouses of energy that help each and every cell function. As we age, these guys don't work as well. All of those free radicals damage the DNA production that your mitochondria are in charge of. This is pretty serious when trying to make a whole new person. DNA integrity is of the utmost importance! Damage here will not allow a cell to replicate.
Ladies, your ovaries love coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This is a major mitochondrial antioxidant. Higher levels of CoQ10 in the ovary result in higher quality eggs and better pregnancy and IVF outcomes. Same with zinc, another great antioxidant, though speak with someone before supplementing as it comes with some risks.
Gents, your sperm love zinc and selenium, and vitamins C and E. These are awesome antioxidants that help prevent defects in motility and morphology. They also help preserve the sperm's DNA and protect it from any free radicals flying around.
Keep in mind, these aren't designed to offset those cigarettes and there really isn't enough antioxidants in the world that can do so. Reduce that level of damage by managing stress (breeeeeeeeeathe), don't smoke or be around smoke, and keep that blood sugar stable. Pump in the berries and veggies.
Love your mitochondria.
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