Folate 'may keep sperm healthy'

A diet rich in the vitamin folate may protect men against producing abnormal sperm and children with genetic abnormalities, a study suggests.

Researchers found high dietary folate was linked to lower levels of sperm with the wrong number of chromosomes. Folate, also protective against birth defects, is found in leafy green vegetables, fruit and pulses.

The study, by the University of California Berkeley, features in the journal Human Reproduction.

It is estimated that up to 4% of sperm in a healthy man carry either too many or too few chromosomes - a condition known as aneuploidy.

Aneuploidy is linked to failure to conceive, miscarriages, and children born with conditions such as Down's syndrome, Turner's syndrome and Klinefelter's syndrome.

However, the reason why sperm become mutated in this way is poorly understood. The Berkeley team analysed sperm samples from 89 healthy, non-smoking men, and quizzed them about their intake of zinc, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene. Folate either came from the men's diet, or in the synthetic, folic acid form, which is found in dietary supplements.

The researchers found a statistically significant association between folate intake and lower sperm aneuploidy.

Source - BBC

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