Antioxidants have been touted as a save-all with claims of weight loss, improved cellular health, reduced signs of aging and fertility-boosting effects, but according to researchers there is no connection between antioxidants and improved fertility. A new study published in The Cochrane Library claims just the opposite – antioxidants have no effect on fertility for females.

Researchers pulled information from 28 previously-conducted trials. More than 3,500 women took part in the studies and all women were currently undergoing fertility treatments. Time spent using fertility treatments ranged from 12 days up to two years, in some cases. Women involved in the study fell between 18 and 42 years of age.

Researchers noted that antioxidants are commonly taken by both men and women in an attempt to boost fertility. Analysis women underwent for the individual trials showed antioxidant use included:

  • Melatonin
  • Vitamins E, C, D and Calcium
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • L-Arginine

When pregnancy rates for women taking oral antioxidants were compared to pregnancy rates in women who did not use oral antioxidants, there was no upswing in pregnancy rates in the antioxidant group. It was also noted there could be potential side effects with antioxidant intake that actually reduce female fertility.

Researchers noted 14 studies out of the 28 included in the results showed negative side effects with antioxidant use. Negative side effects included miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, but only when antioxidants were taken in conjunction with other fertility interventions.

Based on the review of the 28 studies, there is no evidence antioxidants improve pregnancy rate or birth rate in women seeking fertility assistance. Moreover, there were some reports of negative side effects, though the quality of the studies and evidence collected was “very low to low.” This caused authors to determine that additional research is needed to determine if there are any potential negative side effects.

Source: Marian G Showell, Julie Brown, Jane Clarke, Roger J Hart. Antioxidants for female subfertility. The Cochrane Library. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007807.pub2.