6 Antioxidants to Know: Your Guide to Boosting Fertility Preconception


Antioxidants have been shown to improve and protect egg and sperm quality, support the body’s free radical defenses and maintain DNA integrity.
Sperm function, including quantity, motility (movement), and morphology (structure), also depend on balancing the body's antioxidant activity and oxidative stress.
NAC, CoQ10, and ALA, among other antioxidants can serves as some of the most powerful defenses for reproductive cells.
6 Antioxidants to Know: Your Guide to Boosting Fertility Preconception

You may have heard that a phenomenon known as oxidative stress can impact fertility. (Never heard of oxidative stress? Don’t worry — check out this article, then circle back.) The excellent news: Antioxidants can protect egg and sperm health by helping to balance the antioxidant/oxidative stress see-saw. Let’s explore the science and review the best antioxidants for boosting female and male fertility.

How do antioxidants impact fertility in females?

There is a delicate balance between antioxidants and oxidative stress in the female reproductive system. As we age, we naturally have more oxidative stress and less cellular energy production. Unfortunately, with age also comes more abnormal chromosomes in women's eggs, plus cervical fluid changes, which impact a woman's chances of having a viable pregnancy. 

However, advancing age doesn’t always result in infertility or subfertility, and even young women of ideal reproductive age can have vastly different egg quality. It’s highly variable and specific to the individual. These changes are not only a result of aging and don’t necessarily develop slowly over a lifetime. Instead, most chromosomal errors occur shortly before ovulation due to oxidative stress damage to the mitochondria, the body's energy-producing "battery.” This is where antioxidants come in. 

Antioxidants have been shown to improve and protect egg and sperm quality, support the body’s free radical defenses and maintain DNA integrity. Eggs develop many months before ovulation occurs in a process known as folliculogenesis. During this process, antioxidants like glutathione, the master antioxidant, shield eggs from damage caused by oxidative stress (1). Glutathione also helps produce healthier eggs and more robust embryos in women undergoing IVF (1). In addition, eggs of higher quality with better DNA integrity are more likely to implant successfully. Optimizing your egg quality through food and supplements can elevate, protect, and preserve your fertility.

How do antioxidants impact fertility for males?

Like eggs, sperm function, including quantity, motility (movement), and morphology (structure), also depend on balancing the body's antioxidant activity and oxidative stress. For example, the seminal plasma, or the fluid portion of semen, contains a rich source of antioxidants that protect the sperm against oxidative stress, one of the main contributing factors to male infertility. You may have guessed, but when there is too much oxidative stress or reduced antioxidant protection, this can reduce fertility potential

Sperm, on the other hand, needs antioxidants like glutathione to form the midpiece of its mitochondria (2). When the body isn't producing enough glutathione, it can impact sperm motility or its ability to travel efficiently to the egg (1) (2). In addition, antioxidants can help restore the structure and function of the cell membrane and maintain DNA integrity, particularly in men with high levels of DNA fragmentation (3).

One important point to note is that even if there is no evidence of abnormal sperm quality on a semen analysis, there is still a significant benefit to taking lifestyle measures to optimize sperm health. This is because not everything can be measured on a semen analysis, and sperm are constantly being made and developing.

Sperm Motility
normal forward movement
abnormal movement
Sperm Morphology
normal sperm
abnormal sperm
Sperm Count
normal sperm count
low sperm count

Which antioxidants are safe and beneficial for egg and sperm quality? 

While our body can make antioxidants, the modern environment (along with our bodies' natural cellular processes) makes it challenging to keep the balance of antioxidants and oxidative stress in check. The good thing is that several well-studied antioxidants can improve and protect egg and sperm quality. 

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Alpha-lipoic acid, or ALA, is a fertility-supporting antioxidant with protective and restorative effects on eggs and sperm. In women, it supports egg cell maturation through fertilization to embryo development (4). In men, it helps improve sperm count (the total number of sperm in a sample or one ejaculate), concentration (the number of sperm in one milliliter of semen), motility, and levels of antioxidants in the sperm (5), which helps to maintain DNA integrity (6).

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a superstar antioxidant for both egg and sperm quality. Though most CoQ10 is made by the body, levels naturally decline with age and even the highest food sources may not be enough to influence levels adequately. In fact, very little is found in food sources and the body’s needs can exceed the amount that we make or consume. It’s a highly individualized process. 

For women, CoQ10 is essential in boosting an egg's battery or mitochondrial function. The better the mitochondrial function, the easier it is for eggs to produce more energy, which helps support egg maturation, fertilization, and embryo development. For men, CoQ10 circulates in the testis and sperm, and in research, it has been shown to support healthy sperm motility (7). 



Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb with potent antioxidant properties that support a healthy and balanced response to stress. Long durations of stress can impact every stage of fertility. As cortisol levels rise, the ability of our body to produce the hormones we need to support optimal fertility decrease and, in turn, impact the quality of our eggs and sperm.

Not only can Ashwagandha promote calm, clarity, relaxation, and a healthy stress response, but it helps maintain normal cortisol levels. For men, its impact extends even further. It has the added benefit of improving sperm count, motility, and morphology while also supporting the body’s free radical defenses and maintaining DNA integrity. 

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)

N-acetyl cysteine, or NAC, the supplement form of cysteine, is an amino acid that helps the body create and use protective antioxidants like glutathione. While you may be familiar with NAC for its role in immune and respiratory health, it also plays an essential role in fertility.

For women undergoing assisted reproductive efforts, NAC supplementation has been shown to support follicle development (10). It also has the added benefit of helping ovulation, oocyte maturation, embryo quality, and more favorable hormone levels in women with PCOS (11). For men with fertility problems, research has shown that supplementing NAC daily for at least three months is linked to healthier sperm function and higher sperm counts (12). A win-win!


Selenium is a trace mineral with antioxidant properties essential in both male and female fertility. In men, selenium supports sperm maturation while supporting the body’s free radical defenses, improving and protecting sperm quality.(13). Selenium also improves sperm parameters, including motility and morphology (14). In female fertility, selenium promotes healthy thyroid hormone creation, healthy blood sugar levels, and healthy birth weights for baby (15). 


Zinc, another essential nutrient for fertility, is a critical player in supporting healthy sperm DNA creation and sperm parameters like motility and concentration (16). Its antioxidant-like properties help promote healthy hormone levels in men and women, supporting immune function and healthy, full-term births (17).

How to Increase Your Fertility Boosting Antioxidants


Diet is the first way to get more antioxidants into your body. Eating nutrient-dense foods like cruciferous vegetables, grass-fed meats, nuts, and seeds, will flood your body with various nutrients needed for optimal antioxidant levels.


Though we are food-first advocates here at FullWell, we understand that supplementing is needed more often than not to help enhance our fertility in our modern environments that do such an excellent job at depleting it. That's why we expertly formulated FullWell's range of supplements to support every aspect of your fertility. 

Start by choosing your prenatal:

Women's Prenatal
Men's Multivitamin

Add on our new Fertility Booster, a first-of-its-kind supplement specifically designed to provide optimal nutrients for BOTH egg and sperm health for those who are:

  • Trying to conceive or planning to start a family soon
  • Undergoing fertility treatment
  • Looking to improve sperm quality before freezing their eggs or sperm
  • Protecting their fertility for the future 
Turn on a firehose of antioxidant power.
“Our advice? Keep it simple. Trust us to provide you with your high-quality Fertility Booster and Multivitamin Combination. BOTH partners must do their job to nourish and protect their fertility at least 3-6 months before they begin trying to conceive. You won't regret adding these antioxidants (plus, you can save up to 20% when you subscribe).”
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