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Semen is a thick, nutritious liquid, rich in vitamins (such as C, B12), amino acids, lipids, monosaccharides (fructose), et cetera. Can semen's ability to fulfill the needs of human organism provide enough essential nutrients to keep the body alive and functional? And if so, would it be a healthy life?

Can a glass of ejaculate a day keep The Reaper/doctor away? If not, how long could a person survive on a "diet" like this?

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Don't know why this one was down-voted. Up-voted to offset. This is a question concerning human biological processes, despite unsettling implications to some responders. –  MCM Sep 5 '12 at 15:06
    
Right, I do realise that semen content varies, also, question that should have been asked is 'roughly, how long one can take that diet [I mean - is it more like 3 weeks or 3 months - or else] and what exactly is most likely to cause death'. I should be more specific. Thanks for help however, kind sir MCM - and, can't vitamin K be manufactured by intestinal flora? –  Arwil Sep 5 '12 at 15:28
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@MCM it may concern human biological processes, but it's not relevant for anything. I don't see how this is any more valuable than any other "how long can I live eating only X" almost all of which are simply rhetorical "just curious" questions with nothing particularly useful about them. –  Ben Brocka Sep 18 '12 at 14:37
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I downvoted because the question as phrased is not suitable for this site. Asking "what is the nutritional content of human semen" would be more appropriate for a biology forum. In what possible context would you be confronted with a situation where you had to survive on male ejaculate? –  Poshpaws Sep 18 '12 at 15:11
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I agree the question is not the best, but it is not a topic forbidden in the FAQ, and it is an answerable question that doesn't require an extended conversation or a book's worth of text. While it would have been nice to have the question phrased better, as Poshpaws suggested, not everyone will think in that manner - and I don't see why they should be excluded. Once a question like this has been asked and thoroughly answered, then it can serve as a reference for future questions. –  MCM Sep 18 '12 at 15:21
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1 Answer

No, you cannot live off of semen.

A source from Columbia.edu:

A typical ejaculation fills up about one teaspoon; the actual amount is determined by a man's age (younger men usually make more semen), when he last ejaculated, and how long he's aroused before ejaculating, among other factors. Contrary to what you've heard, semen is not loaded with calories. Each teaspoon of ejaculate has about 5 - 7 calories and some 200 - 500 million sperm. Since sperm make up only about 1 percent of semen, what accounts for the other 99 percent? Well, its other ingredients include:

  • Fructose sugar
  • Water
  • Ascorbic acid (a.k.a., vitamin C)
  • Citric acid
  • Enzymes
  • Protein
  • Phosphate and bicarbonate buffers (bases)
  • Zinc

Can swallowing semen enrich a protein poor diet? Unless you're gulping gallons of it each day, it's no substitute for real nutritious cuisine!

From a non-academic, but apparently well-informed source, semen contains:

Semen contains only 15 calories and boy does it have a lot of stuff in it. So let's have a look. Ejaculate contains ascorbic acid, blood-group antigens, calcium, chlorine, cholesterol, choline, citric acid, creatine, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), fructose, glutathione, hyaluronidase, inositol, lactic acid, magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, purine, pyrimidine, pyruvic acid, sodium, sorbitol, spermidine, spermine, urea, uric acid, vitamin B12, and zinc.

I've highlighted the nutritionally-relevant ingredients. You'll notice that there is some overlap - with the Columbia source. What you won't notice, though, are the rest of the Essential Vitamins and Minerals:

Vitamin A (retinol)
Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin, vitamin G)
Vitamin B3 (niacin, vitamin P, vitamin PP)
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, or pyridoxal)
Vitamin B7 (biotin, vitamin H)
Vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate, vitamin M)
Vitamin D (ergocalciferol, or cholecalciferol)
Vitamin E (tocopherol)
Vitamin K (naphthoquinoids)
Chloride (Cl−)
Chromium (Cr)[4]
Cobalt (Co) (as part of Vitamin B12)
Copper (Cu)
Iodine (I)
Iron (Fe)
Manganese (Mn)
Molybdenum (Mo)
Nickel (Ni)
Selenium (Se)
Sulfur (S) numerous roles[5]

I should also mention that the specific amounts of each ingredient will vary from person to person, as diet can play a major role in flavor resulting from the changed nutritional content (i.e. - higher fructose levels).

As perhaps the most reliable source I could find, there is a Wikipedia article with references concerning the makeup of human seminal fluid and has this information:

amino acids, citrate, enzymes, flavins, fructose (2–5 mg per mL semen,3 the main energy source of sperm cells, which rely entirely on sugars from the seminal plasma for energy), phosphorylcholine, prostaglandins (involved in suppressing an immune response by the female against the foreign semen), proteins, vitamin C

acid phosphatase, citric acid, fibrinolysin, prostate specific antigen, proteolytic enzymes, zinc

It echoes the other sources closely, and still yields insufficient evidence that a person could live off of semen exclusively.

As for how long you can live? From a Scientific American article concerning starvation there have been confirmed instances of hungers strikes lasting up to 40 days. Assuming you could consume enough semen to sustain your body's daily Caloric requirements, you would die of malnutrition eventually. Scurvy - the inadequate intake of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) - would probably be the culprit, as deficiency becomes clinical in 1 to 3 months with the later stages of Scurvy being: "...more severe and life threatening; common manifestations include generalized edema, severe jaundice, hemolysis, acute spontaneous bleeding, neuropathy, fever, convulsions, and death."

Assuming that there is enough Vitamin C in semen, you would die of other deficiencies. Since Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) is water-soluble (is not stored in your fatty tissues), not found in semen at all, and the body only reserves about a month's worth, after 30 days you would start to experience Beriberi - which is only slightly less fun than Scurvy.

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An impressive answer. However, that first constituent from the second source - "aboutonia". I can find no trace of a definition for this. All Google results seem to point back to this source, it isn't in my dictionary and it doesn't generate any hits at PubMed. Presumably it was originally "Ejaculate contains about [something].." but I can't come up with a candidate that explains the "onia" –  Alan Boyd Sep 5 '12 at 15:31
    
Right, I do realise that semen content varies, also, question that should have been asked is 'roughly, how long one can take that diet [I mean - is it more like 3 weeks or 3 months - or else] and what exactly is most likely to cause death'. I should be more specific. Thanks for help however, kind sir MCM - and, can't vitamin K be manufactured by intestinal flora? –  Arwil Sep 5 '12 at 15:37
    
@Alan Boyd - I wouldn't be surprised if they meant albumen, or something similar. It's not the greatest source, but there weren't any "hard" sources for the nutritional content of semen like journal articles or studies. There's supposedly a 2004 study out of Sydney, but I couldn't find it. –  MCM Sep 5 '12 at 16:09
    
@Arwil - Vitamin K can be manufactured by intestinal flora, yes, but not in the amounts necessary to sustain human life. My personal opinion is that you wouldn't live for much more than a month. There have been hunger strikes for as long as 40 days, but if the semen didn't contain enough Vitamin C then Scurvy would kill you in a few weeks. Edit: Also removed "aboutonia" since it's not a real compound. –  MCM Sep 5 '12 at 16:17
    
I see. So, summing up, consumption of significant amount of semen, sufficient to postpone suffering from malnutrition and scurvy, can probably lead to about 2 months of not so quality life, ending in agony of 'deficiency-based' diseases, such as beri-beri. Thanks a lot, you really did a tremendous job! –  Arwil Sep 5 '12 at 17:34
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