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Hum Reprod. 2009 Jun;24(6):1304-12. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dep024. Epub 2009 Feb 19.

Associations between dietary patterns and semen quality in men undergoing IVF/ICSI treatment.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


BACKGROUND This study investigates whether dietary patterns, substantiated by biomarkers, are associated with semen quality. METHODS In 161 men of subfertile couples undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment in a tertiary referral clinic in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, we assessed nutrient intakes and performed principal component factor analysis to identify dietary patterns. Total homocysteine (tHcy), folate, vitamin B12 and B6 were measured in blood and seminal plasma. Semen quality was assessed by sperm volume, concentration, motility, morphology and DNA fragmentation index (DFI). Linear regression models analyzed associations between dietary patterns, biomarkers and sperm parameters, adjusted for age, body mass index (BMI), smoking, vitamins and varicocele. RESULTS The 'Health Conscious' dietary pattern shows high intakes of fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains. The 'Traditional Dutch' dietary pattern is characterized by high intakes of meat, potatoes and whole grains and low intakes of beverages and sweets. The 'Health Conscious' diet was inversely correlated with tHcy in blood (beta = -0.07, P = 0.02) and seminal plasma (beta = -1.34, P = 0.02) and positively with vitamin B6 in blood (beta = 0.217, P = 0.01). An inverse association was demonstrated between the 'Health Conscious' diet and DFI (beta = -2.81, P = 0.05). The 'Traditional Dutch' diet was positively correlated with red blood cell folate (beta = 0.06, P = 0.04) and sperm concentration (beta = 13.25, P = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS The 'Health Conscious' and 'Traditional Dutch' dietary pattern seem to be associated with semen quality in men of subfertile couples.

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