Zinc plays an important role in men’s health. If you’re like many men, you may not give much thought to what you eat, but you might pay more attention if you knew that certain nutrients, such as zinc, could potentially improve the health of your sperm and, as a bonus, the health of your prostate and heart as well.
More than 70% of men do not obtain the minimum daily requirement of zinc from their diets. This mineral is necessary for all aspects of male reproduction, including hormone metabolism and balance, prostate function, and sperm formation and motility.
Zinc is also crucial to the manufacture and repair of DNA. Its role in strengthening the immune system is rapidly being recognized as critical. Additionally, zinc is an enzyme co-factor that assists the body in absorbing enzymes.
Zinc is among the most important minerals in the body, right up there with calcium and magnesium, since it plays an important role in many cellular functions. It is also important for hair and skin health, eyesight, cognitive functions, and even taste and smell.
However, the most immediately observable effect is the impact on your immune system. Research has shown that zinc has a proven ability to fight colds and possibly shave days off the illness. Needless to say, this effect is good news all around, providing benefits and promoting good health across the board.
For men, zinc is particularly interesting since it has a direct link to the body’s natural testosterone production. This hormone is what makes a man a man in everything from musculature and facial hair to performance in the bedroom. Zinc is also important for the prevention of estrogen production, which not only counteracts the natural testosterone but also increases the risk of heart problems and obesity.
Zinc is one of the most important supplements for men’s health with the highest concentrations in the prostate gland. It is a key mineral in male sexual function and a protector nutrient against prostate cancer.
Zinc deficiency syndromes in men can be present in different ways. For example, low testosterone and low sperm counts may be signs of a zinc deficiency. Men with excessive estrogen levels despite normal testosterone levels may also lack this mineral. Increased estrogen levels can result from elevated amounts of the aromatase enzyme which converts testosterone to estrogen. Excess estrogen is also known as estrogen dominance.
Zinc is also an antioxidant that protects cells against oxidative damage, including sperm cells. Not getting enough zinc in your diet may increase your risk of poor quality sperm and infertility, according to a 2009 study published in “Nutrition Research.” This study found that men with lower levels of seminal zinc had lower sperm counts, as well as abnormal sperm morphology. The researchers hypothesized that zinc provides protection to sperm cells against oxidative damage, improving their number and quality.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in American men, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. A normal prostate has higher levels of zinc than any other soft tissue in the body. However, cancerous prostates have lower levels of zinc than normal prostates, reports the Institute. Additionally, men who get more zinc in their diets also tend to have lower rates of prostate cancer. As an antioxidant, zinc may protect the prostate from cell damage. Zinc is also an anti-inflammatory and helps promote the death of cancerous cells.
For the aging male population, zinc supplementation can be indicated for several reasons. It inhibits the activity of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme that irreversibly converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone and may be helpful in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate).
Some medical conditions inhibit zinc absorption, notably chronic liver disease, diabetes, sickle cell disease, chronic renal disease, and various types of absorption-related maladies of the gut. Vegetarians and those with sensitive digestive systems resulting in frequent diarrhea should also be careful. If you suspect you might be deficient, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test.