University of Sheffield study

Tomatoes could hold the key for infertility problems

Leading UK researchers are investigating lycopene, the nutrient that makes tomatoes red, as a treatment for poor sperm quality. Lycopene is poorly absorbed from tomatoes, but numerous studies have shown that supplements containing modified forms of this and other nutrients, such as L-carnitine, could improve sperm.

Professor Allan Pacey, a male fertility specialist at the University of Sheffield, has just completed a study looking at its effects on sperm production. While the results are yet to be published, he is hoping they will provide a “proof of concept” for other studies.

Dr Ashok Agarwal, a world authority on improving sperm quality, has produced a number of studies on lycopene and other nutrients. “We have some promising results in terms of improved sperm, but more work is needed,” he stated. He did, however, caution against self-medicating. “I am worried people are being given antioxidants whether they need them or not. If the sperm is normal, supplements can do damage.”

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