Okay gentlemen, this post is for you. There are many important nutrients and in fact there are twenty-four vitamins and minerals categorized as essential, but zinc with regards to men’s health may be the most important.
First off, zinc is in every cell of the body and is the most used mineral in enzymatic reactions. It is a huge player in immune function and reducing the frequency in which we get sick. A deficiency in zinc leads to a reduction in T cell function. Zinc is key in helping wounds heal, it supports our sensory functions such as sight, smell and taste and aids in the maintenance of healthy skin. It also helps support cardiovascular health by strengthening the endothelial layer of blood vessels and because it is also an antioxidant, it assists in managing inflammation. Zinc also plays a role in brain health by balancing mood and suppressing feelings of depression through neurotransmitters such as dopamine. And to top just about all of it off, a deficiency in zinc has also been linked to premature hair loss. Yikes!!!!
There should be no argument as to the importance of zinc, but why is it such a rock star for male species? You mean there is more to zinc? You bet there is!
Zinc is used in hormone metabolism with such hormones as insulin, growth hormone and sex hormones and is necessary for sperm formation and sperm motility. Therefore zinc is highly important for sexual function, reproductive organs and sex drive.
A note regarding zinc and testosterone – it only supports testosterone production in those who have low testosterone. Sorry, bodybuilders.
The recommended daily allowance, or RDA, for zinc is 15 mg/day. Remember RDA’s are for maintaining survival, not for enjoying optimal health. Therefore, a range between 15-75mg per day is more ideal (children around 10mg). Zinc serum levels are said to be lowest in 13-14 year old boys, therefore it shouldn’t be much of a shock as this is also about the time when acne shows up.
Zinc is lost through sweat and ejaculation, the latter is probably linked to why I always heard that having sex before game day decreases performance. I am not sure how sound the evidence is in connecting these two things but I figured it was worth a mention.
Those with digestive issues, usually related to a low level of stomach acid, are often deficient in zinc. Alcoholics are also normally deficient in zinc, in addition to many other nutrients. Vegans are highly susceptible to low zinc and this was one of the reasons why I slowly reintroduced animal foods back into my diet after a five-year stint eating entirely plant based.
A single oyster provides about 15mg while four ounces of lean beef provides about 7mg. Turkey, beans and nuts and seeds are other good sources. Pumpkin seeds are the highest in zinc and their oils provide some relief with the pelvic pressure associated with an enlarged prostate. It is noted that plant based sources of zinc binds with phytates (an anti-nutrient that plants possess as part of their own innate defense system) resulting in hindered digestion and absorption of zinc. To what extent this occurs I don’t think we know, but with my personal experience mentioned above I am sure I am not the only one whose blood test revealed a deficiency.
Since an under active stomach may lead to decreased zinc absorption, please download your free copy of my Digestion Report (upper right of this page). Since 70-80% of our immune system is located in and around the digestive system and disease usually starts in the gut, you can’t afford not to download this report.
Other reasons why you may be zinc deficient include
- High levels of calcium
- High levels of cadmium
- High levels of silver
- High levels of copper
- Excess consumption of fibre
- Zinc deficient soil
The most visible sign of a zinc deficiency is white spots on your finger and toenails. Since there are so many effects that can be associated with a zinc deficiency it is hard to say that zinc alone would cause such symptoms. An easy and relatively reliable at home test you can try is to purchase zinc sulphate and taste 1-2 teaspoons. If you can’t taste anything then chances are you are deficient, while if you are struck by a disgusting taste then your zinc levels are most likely fine.
There you have it fellas. Be sure to include some of these zinc dense foods into your diet. You and your spouse won’t be disappointed.