What Are the Substances and Nutrients in Sperm?

The liquid-based substance known as semen contains sperm cells that fertilize female eggs. It also contains substances that keep sperm alive and other nutrients. Each ejaculation of semen typically contains about 3.4 ml of fluid. Semen contains protein, fructose and glucose, citric acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, and zinc.


Proteins are essential for healthy sperm and a variety of other functions. Semen is a liquid produced by the testicles and epididymides that contains various enzymes, proteins and other substances in addition to sperm. Proteins are involved in many aspects of sperm production and function, including fertilization, motility and protection from environmental toxins.

The most significant protein in sperm is major sperm protein (MSP), which is an integral part of the motility machinery in nematode sperm. MSP is polymerized to form filament bundles that extend from the front of the sperm cell body. These filaments move the sperm forward in an amoeboidal manner. The motility of nematode sperm is based on a pseudopod and a non-polar cytoskeleton, unlike actin-based cells that use actin monomers and tubulin dimers.

Other proteins present in sperm include prosaposin, which is associated with acrosome reaction. It is a protein that caps the sperm head and may also be responsible for the formation of an enzyme-rich vesicle that dissolves during the acrosome reaction. Studies indicate that prosessins are important for fertilization, as a knockout mouse for prosaposin exhibits faulty spermatogenesis and fertility.


Fructose is a sugar that is a source of energy for sperm. It is metabolized by the sperm cells and converted into ATP. This ATP provides the energy that is needed to initiate and complete fertilization. The presence of fructose in semen is a useful indicator of the health and function of the testicles and vas deferens. Inflammation of these structures can cause blockage in the ejaculatory duct, leading to azoospermia. In azoospermia, the concentration of seminal fructose is lower than normal.

The amount of fructose in semen is measured by using a kit that uses the principle that the oxidation of fructose in the presence of hydrochloric acid produces a color complex that can be detected at a wavelength of 450-492 nm. The result is a readout in nmol/mL. A high level of seminal fructose in the semen is associated with poor sperm motility and morphology. It is also a factor in unexplained infertility cases. In one study, spermatozoa from swim-up separation were suspended in mTALP medium with 0, 0.5, or 1 mmol/L of fructose and incubated at 37degC for 0-6 hours to evaluate their motility and acrosome reaction.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are essential to all cells in the body and provide protein building blocks. They also work with several three vitamins to reduce oxidative stress in sperm, protecting their precious DNA cargo. They are found in foods such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds. Arginine: This amino acid is important for sperm production and enhances sperm count, strength and mobility. Studies show that supplementation with L-arginine can improve sperm quality and increase fertility.

Researchers from Saher Sue Hammoud lab discovered that sperm use unique proteins called protamines to package the chromosome. They demonstrated that if the molecular sequence of the protamine protein is altered, it results in abnormal sperm shapes and a reduction in sperm fertility.

The research was conducted on buck cauda epididymal sperm treated with different concentrations of the amino acids (Pro+Glu 1, Pro+Glu 2, and Pro+Glu 3). The addition of these specific amino acids to semen increased motility and plasma membrane integrity after freezing and thawing. Specifically, the amino acids proline improved motility parameters and protected sperm against free radical damage which is in agreement with earlier studies (Rudolph et al., 1986; Smirnoff and Cumbes, 1989).


Although semen does contain some nutrients, it doesn’t have significant protein or fat content. It is not a source of energy, and it won’t help you build muscles or ruin your diet. Semen’s lubrication functions are all it has to offer nutritionally.

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is critical for the sperm process, as it forms the chemical gradient needed to ensure that sperm reach their destination (sperm chemotaxis). Studies have shown that organic trace mineral supplementation improves both fresh-semen and frozen-semen motility.

Selenium is an antioxidant that works in conjunction with other antioxidants (such as Vitamin E and glutathione peroxidases 4) to combat oxidative stress in sperm cells. It also acts as the building block of selenoproteins that directly aid in sperm creation, transport, and motility.

Lycopene is a natural carotenoid and antioxidant found in tomatoes that helps to protect sperm from damage. Research has shown that lycopene supplementation improves sperm quality and motility. Folate, sometimes referred to as vitamin B9, is essential for making new cells and replicating DNA and other genetic material. It is crucial for male fertility because half of a baby’s genes come from the father. Folate can be obtained in foods such as fortified breakfast cereals, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, beans, kale, spinach, asparagus and avocado.


There’s a rumor going around that one ejaculation contains about as much Vitamin C as there is in an orange. That’s pretty hard to believe, but it is true that semen does contain vitamins.

One of those is Vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant that protects sperm from free radical damage and improves their motility. Vitamin C also works to regenerate the fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin E, which has been shown to improve sperm count, motility and morphology. Studies have found that taking supplements containing both Vitamin C and E can significantly increase sperm motility.

Another antioxidant is Coenzyme Q10, which has been shown to help with sperm motility by improving cellular energy production. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the risk of oxidative stress in sperm. Ashwagandha is a natural herb used in Ayurvedic medicine that is thought to support sperm motility by reducing stress and strain. You can find it in many different supplements, including Care/of’s ExSeed Multi. However, the best way to get these nutrients is to eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.