Testosterone is a critical hormone for men. It’s responsible for the development of male characteristics like muscle mass, bone density, and sex drive. It's also important for the production of sperm and red blood cells. Because of these factors, it's crucial for men to have a sufficient level of this vital hormone.
Testosterone in men is produced in the testes. When testosterone production is stopped or severely reduced, it is called hypogonadism. This causes a stark decrease in sex drive, and can even cause the following symptoms:
- Erectile Disfunction
- Decreased Muscle Mass
It’s also important to note that there is a distinct correlation between zinc levels and testosterone levels. Often when a man is low in testosterone, he is also deficient in zinc. This begs the question of whether testosterone levels can be increased with an improvement in zinc levels and, if so, how can you ensure that you are getting enough zinc.
To answer this question about the correlation between zinc and testosterone, we first need to understand what zinc is and how it affects the body.
What is Zinc and What Does it Do?
Zinc is a chemical element and nutrient found in many foods, such as red meat. Zinc helps both the immune system and metabolism to function at optimal levels and is a critical component to your body’s ability to heal wounds. Zinc also promotes protein and DNA synthesis, and aids in the growth and development of our bodies.
Zinc is also added to many medications, due to its ability to boost the immune system. The mineral is often found in nasal sprays, cough drops, and other cold medications. There is no dispute over the power of zinc when it comes to helping the body’s ability to fight off illness.
With all of these benefits, is it also possible for zinc to increase testosterone levels?
Zinc and Testosterone: What is the Link?
There is a clear link between low testosterone levels and zinc deficiency. What role zinc plays in the prevalence of testosterone is not completely understood, but it is believed that it has a positive effect on the cells in the testes that are responsible for testosterone production.
Studies have been conducted to test the effects of zinc supplementation as a remedy for hypogonadism. One particular study in the Journal of Exercise Physiology found that when men with low testosterone received 30 Mg of zinc supplements per day the levels of free testosterone in their bodies increased.
This shows clear evidence that when zinc deficiency causes low testosterone, the effects can be reversed with an increase in zinc intake. Also, because the body does not store zinc, it’s important to get enough of the nutrient each day.
How Does Zinc Impact Other Hormones?
The positive effects of zinc on hormonal balance don’t stop at testosterone, either. Several other important hormones in the body need sufficient zinc intake to be properly regulated. These hormones include:
- Growth Hormone - As the name suggests, growth hormone is responsible for the body’s growth. This is particularly important in children whose bodies are still developing and growing. Zinc supplementation has been shown to have an effect on increased growth hormone in children who are deficient in both.
- Thyroid Hormones (T3 & T4) - Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are two hormones released by the thyroid gland. These hormones are primarily responsible for regulating metabolism. Zinc has been found to be largely responsible for promoting the level of these hormones.
- Progesterone - This hormone is produced by the ovaries in women. It is responsible for regulating menstrual cycles and is important during the early stages of pregnancy. For women low in progesterone, Zinc can help by increasing the production of Follicle Stimulating Hormone which is what causes ovulation. Ultimately, this produces progesterone.
As you can see, zinc is very important for overall hormone regulation in the bodies of both men and women.
How to Get Enough Zinc?
There are two ways to ensure that your body gets enough zinc, which is ideally 11mg per day for men and 8mg per day for women under normal conditions. For men with low testosterone, it’s important to meet this daily requirement to boost the levels of this critical hormone. There are two ways to ensure that you are getting enough zinc in your body.
Eat Zinc-Rich Foods
There are many foods that contain zinc, and incorporating these into your diet can ensure that your zinc levels remain at an optimal level. Some foods high in zinc include:
- Fortified Cereals
If you’re having trouble eating these types of foods, whether through personal preference or other dietary restrictions, there is the option available to take zinc supplements.
An array of zinc supplements can be purchased at any grocery store or pharmacy. These supplements are meant to be taken daily to fulfill your daily recommended zinc intake. However, it’s important to only take the recommended dosage as stated on the label. While uncommon, there is the potential to go into zinc toxicity if you take well above the recommended dose. The most common side effects of zinc toxicity are vomiting and diarrhea.
Final Verdict: Does Zinc Increase Testosterone?
Zinc is a natural mineral found in many of the foods we eat daily, and it is vital for the production of many important hormones in our body. Among these hormones is testosterone, and for men in particular testosterone deficiency can have extremely negative effects.
If you are testosterone deficient, there’s a good chance you will find that you’re also zinc deficient. By improving your zinc intake, you can help promote healthier testosterone levels, in addition to all of the other incredible benefits of zinc.
Although zinc is so important for us, our bodies do not produce it naturally. This means care should be taken to eat foods with zinc or, alternatively, take a zinc supplement. By keeping zinc levels where they should be, you’re promoting healthy levels of your body’s hormones, and keeping your immune system functioning at full capacity.