When it comes to male fertility, ask not what your sperm can do for you; ask what you can do for your sperm. Since male factors can account for 40% of infertility problems, men wanting a child, just like women, need to prep their bodies to optimize their potential. This is where carnitine comes in - or specifically, the compounds L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine and propionyl-L-carnitine. Carnitine, which is found in just about all human body cells, can help male fertility on several important fronts simultaneously.
1. Carnitine is key to producing energy.
This micronutrient transports fuel-like fat compounds to the cell’s “engine room” (the mitochondria), where they are "burned" for energy. How does this support male fertility? Sperm cells have a long way to travel from the testes to fertilize the egg. They need to keep up their stamina along the way, especially if their quality is low. So, carnitine helps cells fuel up for the long journey.
2. Carnitine has been proven to improve sperm motility.
Carnitine boosts sperm effectiveness in moving through the female reproductive tract, in terms of speed and the ability to swim straight toward the egg. (We’ll avoid reference to sperm, just like men, not asking directions). Overall, infertility studies have shown higher pregnancy rates in women whose partners took carnitine supplements versus those whose partners didn’t. In one particular sperm motility study, it was a pretty significant difference: 31% versus 3.8%.
3. Supplementing with carnitine improves sperm quality.
Specifically, supplementing with L-carnitine and/or acetyl-L-carnitine boosts sperm count and form.
4. Carnitine is an antioxidant.
High concentrations of carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine are found in parts of the male reproductive system, where they serve as antioxidants to protect sperm against oxygen-related free radicals.
5. Carnitine removes toxins from cells.
Carnitine rids waste from cells, lowering the potential for toxicity and disruption of critical cellular functions.
How to make sure you’re getting enough carnitine
Red meat is one of the highest sources of carnitine. Other proteins, such as pork, seafood, chicken and dairy products as well as avocado have this micronutrient, but at much lower levels. Check out the Fruitful mustard and pepper bison filet or morning antioxidant-power smoothie recipes for natural carnitine sources.