A Short Note on : PUFA N3 effects on fertility

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Welcome to Short Notes series; a sharing of research readings in condensed format. Disclaimer  ~ surface interest reading only. It does not permit a discount of any kind from further reading on nuanced topics. Nor does it intend to form empirical conclusions of any kind be it presumptive or biased. Should you are under any existing clinical or third-party interventions, please exercise your own indemnity before pre-empting any self-experimentation and/or changes. For those who are new, welcome to the Internet’s least visited independent thoughts on decentralised nutritional science and experiences. Live-It-Forward, AW. 

PUFA N3 effects on fertility

Curious about PUFAs effect on fertility, I stumbled across various research reviews, meta’s, and journals worth sharing. Please note that I am also picking up other interesting cliff notes amidst papers collected, that despite not necessarily related to PUFAs, may shed new interest.

(Various) Research Review’s + Meta’s ~ interesting cliff notes

  • Generally speaking PUFA N3 appears to be protective in maternal and pregnancy outcomes (Abdelrahman MA et al. 2022) & (Newberry SJ, et al. 2016). However as a gross TLDR ~ there appears to be “mixed” sentiments or at least, no effect on many outcome measures, however of note to these elusive conclusions were “peripartum” depression, gestational hypertension, visual / eye health. Interestingly, there appears to be an increase risk for “mild” Gastrointestinal symptoms.  In addition there is a risk of bias in many RCTs and observational literatures.
  • PUFAs seems to be concentrated on the head, and the tails of the sperm.~ Tran VL et al 2017.
  • Interestingly, Fructose appears to be “major source” of energy for sperm production  Tran VL et al 2017.
  • IGF-1/insulin growth factor appears to play a role as an antioxidant in the testes ~ Tran VL et al 2017.
  • Vitamin D, calcium and dietary fats (apparently ~ CLA / Conjugated Linoleic Acid) ~  are essential for sperm health (Taniya N 2022)
“PUFA are critical nutrients which play an important role in maintaining the physical properties of the sperm membrane fluidity. Dietary supplementation with PUFA can alter fluidity/permeability of sperm membrane and enhance reproductive performance in male ruminants thought improving testis development, spermatogenesis, motility and viability of sperm before and post freezing. Combination of PUFA and vitamin E, C in diets and semen extender at level of proper amount according to each species may bring better effect on improvement of sperm quality thanks to their capacity of antioxidant and protection of sperm membrane integrity. ” ~ Tran VL et al 2017.
“This meta-analysis indicates that supplementing infertile men with omega-3 fatty acids resulted in a significant improvement in sperm motility and concentration of DHA in seminal plasma.” ~Hosseini, B et al. 2018
“Men with hypomotility show low levels of calcium in semen than those with typical motility, indicating a positive correlation between high calcium levels and fecundity in men[37,38]. Moreover, in vitro studies have shown that high levels of calcium increase fecundity in men. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with reduced levels of intra-cellular calcium, which lead to impaired sperm motility, abnormal acrosome reaction, and increased chances of male infertility[39,40]. ” ~ Taniya N. et al. 2022
“Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) treatment for more than 2 months has been found to enhance calcium assimilation in young developing rats that were fed high amounts of omega-3 PUFAs[75].” ~~ Taniya N. et al. 2022

PUFA N3s & women

For women PUFA N3 appears to be generally beneficial. For a bit of context “PCOS” or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome usually refers to a group of symptoms thought to derive from a marked inverse of estrogen to androgen profile. Consequently, a series of symptoms may arise ranging from persistent “anovulation” (where the egg do not release during menstrual cycle; potentially provoked by prolonged stress exposures, particularly exercise), insulin resistance, type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, CVD / cardiovascular disease and endometrial cancer. An RCT trial (Nadjarzadeh A et al. 2013) on 78 overweight / obese women with PCOS received three (3) grams of Omega 3 supplement a day, compared against to placebo, for eight weeks were found to have a normalised trend of menstruation cycles.

“In summary, 8 weeks supplementation with 3gr of omega-3 could reduce serum concentrations of testosterone in overweight and obese PCOS patients. In addition, menstrual cycle becomes more regular in this group of subjects. But it does not change the free androgen index and concentratione of sex hormone binding protein. Trials with longer duration are warranted.” ~ Nadjarzadeh A et al. 2013
After adjusting for age, obesity, race, previous pregnancy, vitamin D and prenatal and multivitamin use, women taking omega-3 supplements had 1.51 (95% CI 1.12, 2.04) times the probability of conceiving compared to women not taking omega-3s. ~ Stanhiser J et al. 2022

What about the PUFA N6/N3 ratio?

A study (Wang R et al. 2022) on a total of 1,785 women, aged 20-44 years found that the higher ALA / Alpha-Linoleic Acids and Linoleic Acids were correlated with a higher risk for infertility. Whilst DHA and EPA appear to be protective.

A rat study (Yan L. et al. 2013) measuring sperm density and motility across various N3:N6 ratios (from 0.13 to 2.85) for 60 days found that the lower the ratio (that is favouring towards vegetable oils intake) the worse the overall sperm profiling. But interestingly this ratio appear to be very specific (1.52).

“Another study revealed that DHA can stimulate the proliferation and steroidogenesis of bovine granulosa cells (41), which may consequently promote reproduction. In women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is a vital factor of infertility, previous studies found that EPA and DHA may improve PCOS symptoms in rats by decreasing lipids and reducing weight and metabolic anomalies.” ~ Wang R et al. 2022
“In conclusion, intake of an appropriate n-3/n-6 PUFA ratio in the diet of rats increased sperm characteristics and enhanced the structure integrity of testis and sperm, thereby improving reproductive performance, which may be related to changes in hormone metabolism. These findings provide a sound basis that a balanced n-3/n-6 PUFA ratio will be beneficial to male reproduction.”  ~ L Yan et al 2013


So that concludes my condensed findings. As these are highly summarised it is neither intended to raise an objective conclusion. For a far more indepth, rigorous reading, I invite all to witness my Self-Meta instead.

Live-It-Forward, AW.

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