Are your sperm leaving the station unarmed ?

omega 3 arming the sperm torpedoAerodynamics is important in design – sleek, pointy things cut through the air more efficiently so they go a lot faster.   Just compare a ferrari with a mini-bus. 

Anything that is sleek and pointy is going to move better, including sperm.  To make a sperm that is sleek and pointy, requires an omega-3 fatty acid.

Designing a sperm

The basic blueprint of a sperm is simple.  A sperm is made up of three bits – the head, the mid-piece and a tail.

 The head region is where all the luggage is packed, specifically the genes which will be passed on to the next generation.  Just behind this, the mid-piece, functions as the sperm cell’s fuel tank and right behind that is the engine i.e. tail. 

 The idea, the tail whips about, propelling the rest of the cell forward.  The fuel tank, provides the energy to keep the head region of the sperm moving towards the prize – the princess.   

Aerodynamically shaped sperm glide along nicely

Normal healthy sperm sharpen up the head region so that is looks like an arrow head.  The arc-like structure is called an acrosome, it’s sleek pointy design,  gives the sperm the ability to glide along nicely. Should the sperm be fortunate enough to bump into the target, it is perfectly shaped to become a drill bit, which bores through the outer layer of the egg. 

And……………. kaboom. Lights, camera, action.   Fertilization.

Arming the sperm torpedo

Researchers from the  University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental  Sciences have unpacked the chemistry behind the final step in sperm assembly.

The team began by doing a little genetic fiddling in mice.  The fiddle involved “knocking out” i.e. preventing the production of DHA and then studying the effect of this fiddle, on sperm quantity and quality.

When the gene was not working, the mice were unable to become proud fathers, effectively the little guys were infertile.

Looking at the sperm under a very fancy microscope (confocal laser scanning (3D) microscope), the research team established  the acrosome  i.e. the tip of the head, was not put together properly,  when DHA was missing. The problem seemed to be the membranes containing vital building blocks and enzymes, didn’t fuse together as it should.

Omega-3 arms the sperm

Making  your own omega-3, is not the only way to get your daily dose of  the stuff, you can eat it.  The best dietary sources of this omega-3 fatty acid is fish

When the research team fed their little mutant mice a diet rich in DHA, their fertility problem vanished.  The knockout mice had no problems arming the torpedo and delivering the goods, baby mice abounded

Confirming that the process of arming the sperm torpedo is accomplished by the omega-3, docosahexanoic acid (DHA) i.e. fish oil.

Are your sperm leaving the station unarmed ?

When omega-3 supplies are low, the sperm that leave the station are not quite the right shape.  Too much drag,  means they never have a fighting chance to meet up with the princess i.e. their owners are infertile.

So if you’re trying to make a baby, get your sperm swimming like a fish,  by eating a lot more fish or supplement.

PS.  Today, eating fish may not be enough to give you all the omega-3 you need, taking an omega-3 supplement might be a good idea.  Just make sure it only contains omega-3, you don’t need omega-6.   

Deficiency in the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Pathway Results in Failure of Acrosome Biogenesis in Mice. Biology of Reproduction, 2011; 85 (4): 721 M. Roqueta-Rivera, T. L. Abbott, M. Sivaguru, R. A. Hess, M. T. Nakamura. 
 

Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind making a healthy baby ? 

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Further reading

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Does obesity  begin in the bedroom not the kitchen ? Vitamin D whips sperm into speed demons Winter nookie increases the risk of having an autistic child

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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