Can antioxidants aid in conception?

Despite people swearing by the positive effects of antioxidants for everything from anti-aging to protection against cancer, a new study found that the tiny molecules do not boost the chances of making a baby.

According to experts, nearly 25 percent couples planning to extend their family face problems.

When women try to conceive as part of an assisted reproductive program, they take dietary supplements including antioxidants to improve their partners’ chances of becoming pregnant.

“There is no evidence in this review that suggests taking an antioxidant is beneficial for women who are trying to conceive,” said lead researcher Marian Showell, who works in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Auckland, in New Zealand.

Review of 28 clinical trials
In order to examine any possible correlation between antioxidant supplements and conception, the researchers conducted a study.They analyzed data from 28 clinical trials involving a total of 3,548 women in the age bracket of 18 to 42 years undergoing fertility treatment. The period of the fertility treatment ranged from 12 days to 2 years.

The study subjects were taking a variety of antioxidants including OctatronR, Multiple micronutrients and Fertility Blend, N-acetylcysteine, Melatonin, L-arginine, Vitamin E, Myo, inositol, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Calcium and Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

The analysis found antioxidants did not increase chances of getting pregnant. It was noted that females taking oral antioxidants were no more likely to conceive than those taking placebos or those assigned to standard treatment of folic acid supplements.

No adverse effects
The study found no scientific evidence to support that antioxidants could be potentially hazardous. Anti-oxidant tablets displayed no adverse effects. Only 14 trials reported miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies.

However, the study had certain limitations. Experts concede that the quality of the trials was poor and the large variety of antioxidants tested made comparisons difficult.

Showell concluded, “We could not assess whether one antioxidant was better than another.
Antioxidants were not associated with an increased live birth rate or clinical pregnancy rate. Variation in the types of antioxidants given meant that we could not assess whether one antioxidant was better than another. There did not appear to be any association of antioxidants with adverse effects for women, but data for these outcomes were limited.”

The findings are published in The Cochrane Library.