The recommended daily allowance of zinc is 11 mg and 8 mg in men and women respectively. It is present in our diet in both animal and plant sources. It is present in good amounts in dairy, poultry, sea food, nuts, veggies such as kale and lentils. States of deficiency may arise due to a list of reasons and may cause problems related to skin, gut, brain, sexual health and other organ systems. Let’s talk about the role of zinc in male sexual health and how topping it up through diet and supplements can improve sexual functionality.
In males, Zinc has been known to play an important role in fertility and virility by various means. It has a role in testosterone production by regulating the hypothalamus-pituitary gland axis and its deficiency can cause low testosterone levels1 . The thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland is also known to be influenced by Zinc. Thyroid hormone is concerned with metabolism, regulation of body temperature and also sexual function indirectly ( by influencing testosterone ). A deficiency of Zinc can cause low thyroid hormone and testosterone levels. The conversion of testosterone to its active form in the body needs an enzyme to do that which also depends on Zinc and a deficiency can lead to inactive testosterone2. The Prostate gland in its secretions has a high concentration of zinc the function of which is to facilitate the normal functioning/structure of the spermatozoa. Supplementation with Zinc has shown to improve the motility of spermatozoa in infertile men with prostate inflammation3. The seminal vesicles produce secretions rich in Zinc which stabilize the spermatozoa structure and function increasing fertility4. The testes produce testosterone and spermatozoa and they contain Zinc to facilitate both processes5.
In a nutshell, Zinc plays an essential role in regulation sexual function in males. Its deficiency can lead to varied problems ranging from low sex drive, reduced sexual pleasure, erectile dysfunction and infertility. It is advised to maintain a healthy balanced diet inclusive of food with Zinc, exercise and refrain from smoking to maintain optimum sexual health. However, in many instances Zinc cannot be obtained in adequate amounts from diet or there may be medical reasons whereby there may be a need for supplementation such as gastrointestinal issues, poor intake, chronic diseases and even cigarette smoking ( has damaging effects on spermatozoa function and structure ). In such conditions Zinc supplementation may be the panacea. A max dose of 40 mg/d can be tolerated by adults without adverse effects.
- 1-Hunt CD, Johnson PE, Herbel J, Mullen LKAm J Clin Nutr. 1992 Jul; 56(1):148-57.
- 2-Ali H, Ahmed M, Baig M, Ali M. Relationship of zinc concentrations in blood and seminal plasma with various semen parameters in infertile subjects. Pak J Med Sci. 2007;23(1):111–43.
- 3-[A clinical study of biological zinc for the treatment of male infertility with chronic prostatitis]. Deng CH, Zheng B, She SF Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue. 2005 Feb; 11(2):127-9.
- 4-Zinc levels in seminal plasma are associated with sperm quality in fertile and infertile men.
- Colagar AH, Marzony ET, Chaichi MJ
- Nutr Res. 2009 Feb; 29(2):82-8.
- 5-Zinc is an essential trace element for spermatogenesis.
- Yamaguchi S, Miura C, Kikuchi K, Celino FT, Agusa T, Tanabe S, Miura T
- Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jun 30; 106(26):10859-64