Omega-3 fatty acids have recently been shown to play a key role in the development of healthy sperm. What the study found was that omega-3 fatty acids turns dysfunctional ’round headed’ sperm into strong, healthy ‘cone-shaped’ headed sperm with egg-opening proteins. This research sheds light on how a diet lacking in omega-3′s could lead to what on the surface seems like infertility.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Shown to Positively Impact Sperm Health
In the study, researchers examined how sperm develops in mice deficient in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a fatty acid that makes up omega-3′s. What they found is that DHA plays an important role in sperm properly forming a structure known as the acrosome on the head of the sperm. The acrosome is contains enzymes which enable the sperm to break through the egg’s outer layers, thus making way for fertilization. Study researcher Manabu Nakamura reports the following:
“The acrosome on top of this cone head is gigantic, it is a large sack containing lots of enzymes…When the sperm meets the egg, the acrosome bursts and it releases enzymes and helps the sperm penetrate into the egg.”
What causes the proper formation of the acrosome is when vesicles fuse together inside what will become the sperm. These vesicles harness a key enzyme that is needed by the sperm if penetration and fertilization to the egg is to occur. Without DHA, however, this formation process does not happen. If the vesicles do not fuse together to make the acrosome, sperm maturation comes to a stop, and what looks like infertility is the result.
Luckily the human body, as well as other mammals, are able to make their own DHA if other fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are present. But with a problematic DHA-synthesizing enzyme, infertility problems could occur.
Improved sperm health is not the only benefits produced by omega-3 fatty acids. When you consume high quality fats such as DHA and EPA, you are essentially feeding the brain and giving it what it needs to function. A great source of omega-3 fats is walnut oil or flaxseed oil. You could also take a supplement of high quality fish oil such as that derived from krill.
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