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(Reuters) - Middle-aged and older men who get enough antioxidants in their diets, through eating foods such as broccoli and tomatoes, may have better-quality sperm than men who don't get as much of the nutrients, according to a U.S. study.
Researchers found that among men aged 45 or older, those who got the most vitamins C and E, folate and zinc tended to have fewer DNA-strand breaks in their sperm, according to a report in the journal Fertility & Sterility.
Strand breaks are a measure of the genetic quality of sperm, which is known to decline as a man ages, though the findings do not prove that antioxidants themselves directly improve sperm quality or boost the chance of a healthy pregnancy.
The study included 80 healthy, non-smoking men between the ages of 22 and 80. They filled out a questionnaire on diet and supplement use, and gave sperm samples.
Among men ages 45 and up, those who got the most vitamin C had 20 percent less DNA damage than those who took in less of the vitamin. Men in that high-intake group typically got about 700 milligrams of vitamin C a day. The recommended amount for men is 90 mg, but an intake as high as 2,000 mg is considered safe.
The findings were similar with vitamin E, zinc and folate, though the differences in sperm DNA damage were smaller. Again, older men in the high-intake groups typically got more of each nutrient than is recommended, but were still well within the safe ranges.
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