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Zinc: Benefits for Men

If you’re looking for a natural supplement to improve your health and male hormones then look no further than zinc.

With the ability to boost your immune system, cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of long-term metabolic and cognitive illness, this mineral is your key to wellness and longevity.

In this article we break down exactly why you should be supplementing zinc and look at the science behind it.

Read on to find out more…


What is Zinc?

Zinc (Zn) is a chemical element and mineral found naturally in the earth. It is a blueish metal with a hexagonal structure. It is both hard and brittle, and has a low melting point relative to other minerals.

In the average healthy person, there is around 2g of zinc in the human body [1].

Because Zn has bioactive properties it is classed as a micronutrient – an element needed in trace amounts for proper development and tissue growth.

In fact, as one of the 24 micronutrients needed to survive, Zn plays a number of vital roles in the human body and is a potent antioxidant [2].

  • Involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism
  • Regulates cell division and cell growth
  • Improves immune response and protects against the common cold
  • Essential for brain development and function
  • Regulates prostate health and testosterone production

You’ll find zinc naturally in a number of foods.

Oysters, meat, offal and eggs provide the best source because high-protein foods contain higher amounts of the mineral. You’ll find it in brewer’s yeast and some grains too.

Lastly, you’ll find small amounts of Zn in seeds, nuts and even spinach. The problem is though that whilst these contribute towards your daily recommended amount, 100 g of spinach contains 0.8 mg of zinc. That means you’d need to eat almost 2 kg of the stuff to get the recommended daily value.

When you eat these foods, Zn is released during the digestive process as free ions, where it is then absorbed into bodily tissues.

The importance of zinc supplementation

Because Zn is so important for cellular functioning, you’ll also find that it is added to some fortified foods like breakfast cereals. And of course it is available as a supplement as well.

Currently, over half of the people in the world are Zn deficient, and 10% of people obtain less than half of the recommended amount per day [3].

As a supplement you’ll find a variety of sources and types of Zn. These include zinc aspartate, sulfate, acetate and gluconate.

Each of these are well tolerated and readily available for tissue absorption.


A range of different foods that contain zinc - liver, seafood, spinach and nuts

Key Point: Zinc is an essential mineral needed by the body to perform a number of cellular roles. Many people though are Zn deficient.


The Health Benefits of Zinc

Because Zn plays so many vital roles in the human body, it goes without saying that it provides a number of health benefits when tissue levels are optimized.

Decreases the risk of cardiovascular illness

Zinc deficiency is considered to be a risk factor for build up of cellular sludge in the arteries – what’s referred to as arthrogenesis. Studies have shown that the mineral offers cardio-protective benefits that reduce the risk of both coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy – a general term for diseases of the heart muscle.

It has also been shown to improve other risk factors of cardiovascular disease too, such as reducing weight in the overweight [4], as well as decreasing cholesterol levels and improving insulin resistance too [5].

Boosts brain and cognitive health

You’ll find high concentrations of Zn in the brain – in particular, the part responsible for learning and memory called the hippocampus. It is also found in high amounts in the pineal gland.

Zn plays an important role in how neuron send messages. It regulates both axonal and synaptic nerve transmission meaning it is essential for nervous system firing.

Studies confirm that Zn is essential for cognitive stability, overall brain health and development of brain cells. It helps calcium channels increase calcium levels inside brain cells, helping them to express the genes, protein and growth factors needed for optimal health [6].

It has also been shown to decrease the symptoms of depression [7] and schizophrenia too [8].

…and a host of other benefits too

  • Improves dental health
  • Fights cancer
  • Improves symptoms of acne, eczema and psoriasis
  • Helps prevent gut and colon disorders and improve digestion
  • Supports liver health
  • Helps muscle repair and growth
  • Improves sense taste and smell

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Zinc and Testosterone

On top of the numerous health benefits that Zinc offers, is its relationship with reproductive health and testosterone. This androgenic mineral can help to improve everything from your libido and sexual performance, to muscle mass and serum testosterone levels.

Zinc improves testosterone levels during intense exercise

Although intense exercise can decrease testosterone in the short-term, 3 mg per kilogram of body weight over a 4-week basis has been found to offset the decrease in both T and thyroid hormones, even after bouts of ‘fatiguing bicycle exercise’ [9].

Similar results were seen in another study with the same clinical methodology – this time in elite level wrestlers [10]. Although their exhaustive exercise schedule should have seen a drop in androgen levels, 3 mg per kilogram of body weight administered over a 4-week period helped to increase both total and free testosterone. 

Zinc elevates androgen levels in infertile men

One study showed that Zn therapy increased levels of both testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), even in 37 infertile men [11].

And from those infertile men, Zn was so potent that 9 of them were able to conceive a child before the study had even finished. They didn’t even wait!

Prostate health improves with zinc supplementation

Although all cells can absorb Zn, it is taken up more readily by prostate cells. This is because prostate is a big target tissue for the mineral.

One study of over 35,000 men showed that when a small dose of 15 mg of Zn was given, the risk of developing prostate cancer decreased by 65% [12].

Does zinc increase testosterone? The answer is yes, it does. And not only that, it improves libido, fertility and prostate health too.


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Summary – zinc benefits in men

Zinc is a chemical element and mineral found naturally in foods as well as supplements. It regulates and maintains health by controlling a number of chemical and enzymatic reaction in your cells. It improves overall wellnessand protects you from a number of potential long-term illnesses.

It has a big effect on testosterone and has been shown to improve fertility, total and free T levels, and prostate functioning too.

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References

  1. Pfeiffer, CC et al. Zinc, the brain and behavior. Bio Psychiatry. 1982; 17(4): 513-32
  2. Roohani, N et al. Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review. J Res Med Sci. 2013; 18(2): 144–157
  3. Takeda, A et al. Insight into zinc signaling from dietary zinc deficiency. Brain Res Rev. 2009; 62(11): 33-44
  4. Hashemipour, M et al. Effect of zinc supplementation on insulin resistance and components of the metabolic syndrome in prepubertal obese children. Hormones (Athens). 2009 Oct-Dec; 8(4): 279-85
  5. Kelishadi, R et al. Effect of zinc supplementation on markers of insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and inflammation among prepubescent children with metabolic syndrome. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2010; 8(6): 505-10
  6. Sandstead, HH et al. Zinc is essential for brain development and function. J. Trace Elem. Exp. Med. 2003; 16: 165–173
  7. Sawada, T et al. Effect of zinc supplementation on mood states in young women: a pilot study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010; 64(3): 331-3
  8. Test, TR et al. The Role of Zinc Supplementation in the Treatment of Schizophrenia. 2010
  9. Kilic, M. Effect of fatiguing bicycle exercise on thyroid hormone and testosterone levels in sedentary males supplemented with oral zinc. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2007 ; 28(5): 681-5
  10. Kilic, M et al. The effect of exhaustion exercise on thyroid hormones and testosterone levels of elite athletes receiving oral zinc. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006; 27(1-2): 247-52
  11. Netter, A et al. Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and sperm count. Arch Androl. 1981; 7(1):69-73
  12. Gonzales, A et al. Zinc intake from supplements and diet and prostate cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2009; 61(2): 206-15

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