Vitamins C and E

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid (AA), is a water-soluble antioxidant necessary for normal tissue growth and repair in the body. Since AA is not manufactured endogenously, it must be incorporated in one's daily diet. AA is commonly found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. It is an essential antioxidant for blocking some of the oxidative damage inflicted by free radicals and is found at concentrations higher in seminal plasma than in serum [71, 72]. A positive correlation was noted between seminal plasma AA concentration and the percentage of morphologically normal spermatozoa [73]. Additionally, poor semen samples associated with OS have been found to contain significantly lowered AA concentrations [74] . These studies demonstrate the importance of AA in warding off the adverse effects of ROS.

On the other hand, vitamin E is a lipid-soluble vitamin. Its antioxidant properties are involved in protecting vitamin A and essential fatty acids from oxidation and preventing breakdown of tissues. Similarly to vitamin C, the body cannot generate vitamin E. Hence, it must be supplemented into a daily diet from corn, lentils, wheat, rice, or nuts. Vitamin E has family of eight isomers; a-tocopherol is the only form that is actively maintained in the human body, and thus, found in the largest quantities in the blood and tissues, specifically in cell membranes. It is believed to display defensive mechanisms by acting as a reducing agent to inhibit LPO, as well as elevating the activity of other antioxidants to aid in the scavenging of free radicals [75, 76],

Combination therapy of vitamins C and E has been hypothesized to be potentially effective in the treatment of idiopathic male infertility. Administration of hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidants concurrently may allow for a synergistic effect in reducing the amount of peroxidative attack on spermatozoa. Recent studies assessing vitamins C and E on sperm parameters are summarized in Table 22.4.

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