Why Zinc is Essential to Male Sexual Functions

Why Zinc is Essential to Male Sexual Functions

By Andrea Bartels CNP NNCP RNT
Registered Nutritional Therapist

06 Nov 2018

Why Zinc is Essential to Male Sexual Functions

Why Oysters are Aphrodisiac
Men, consider your sex life. With every ejaculation, a human male loses about 1 milligram of zinc. So you can see why this mineral needs regular replenishment if you want to maintain your sexual and reproductive organ health.

Oysters are by far the highest dietary source of zinc, and they are a well-known libido-enhancer. That’s because zinc is vital for testosterone production, which significantly increases sex drive. Also interesting is the connection between zinc and sensation. Since zinc deficiency diminishes the sense of taste and smell in males and females alike, a deficiency in the mineral can reduce the detection of pheromones that are important in sexual arousal.

Zinc and Fertility
Are you looking forward to being a dad? Without adequate zinc, sperm count drops, lessening the chances of egg fertilization required for pregnancy. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume in young men. What researchers found was that frequent ejaculation caused short-term zinc depletion. This is all the more reason to increase your zinc intake: to replenish the stores vital to fertility, among other things.

Zinc and Enlarged Prostate
Zinc is important for the health of the prostate gland, in its role of manufacturing semen as a vehicle for the passage of sperm. In fact the prostate gland contains one of the body’s highest concentrations of zinc!

Don’t judge a man by the sound of his urination. A young, healthy male produces a strong stream of urine that sounds like an ornamental fountain in good working order. Now think of that malfunctioning drinking fountain in your old elementary school. That’s what a mature man with an enlarged prostate experiences. Dribbling..stopping..starting…dribbling.... In no way does this reflect his personality or mood; it’s simply a physical challenge to push urine out of a hose that’s been squeezed nearly shut. Urination can become frequent, especially at night, but the net result is a poor stream of urine.

All this is happening due to change in the hormone balance in older men. DHT (di-hydro-testosterone) is the type of testosterone associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy, a.k.a. enlarged prostate. Zinc is required to prevent the harmful enzymatic conversion of testosterone into the undesirable form of DHT. By preventing the conversion, zinc protects the prostate gland from increasing size and its resulting urinary difficulties.

Zinc and Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the number one most-diagnosed cancer in Canadian men.

Like other cancers, prostate cancer involves premature maturation and reproduction of cells within the prostate gland, creating a tumour. Since zinc is vital for proper cell division, it may explain in part why it may protect against prostate cancer. In a prospective study of men published in 2009, supplementary zinc protected against invasive prostate cancer, while dietary zinc had no protective effect. This may be due to the fact that zinc is lacking in many of the foods grown by large-scale agriculture methods.

Zinc and Immunity
The consequences of zinc deficiency extend to the immune system, which protects us from infections and cancer growth. Zinc deficiency can increase risk of infections. In one study of elderly men in a senior’s home, the men who took a zinc supplement for 12 months showed markedly lower incidence of infections than the men there that took a placebo. Although the study abstract does not indicate the kinds of infections some of the men developed, prostatitis is one with symptoms that mimic a urinary tract infection. Side note: In fact, in clinical nutrition practice I have found supplemental zinc can be very beneficial in men with chronic prostatitis.

What Rhymes with Zinc?
Zinc is one of the minerals most difficult to absorb since it depends on adequate stomach acidity. As we age, this acidity is reduced, compromising our absorption of certain minerals. That’s why a supplement needs to be formulated to maximize absorption potential.

Zinc glycinate is a compound of zinc and glycine---the smallest essential amino acid. Combining the two results in better absorption across the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream—partnering more effectively than any other amino acid or other material.

More is not always better. Higher dose supplements can lead to zinc dominance, copper deficiency and potential immune suppression. That’s why PLV zinc glycinate aims to replenish the body’s zinc stores with only 23 mg of highly absorbable elemental zinc per capsule. Adults can take two capsules initially to replenish and then dose down to just one capsule ongoing to maintain zinc levels.

Men, think zinc. All my male clients are encouraged to take a zinc supplement, no matter what their health status or concerns. Whether your concerns are related to libido, sexual function, urinary troubles or prostate cancer, zinc is the key to healthy function.


Yan, Michelle Yan et al. Differential response to zinc-induced apoptosis in benign prostate hyperplasia and prostate cancer cells. J Nutr Biochem. 2010 Aug; 21(8): 687–694.

Prasad AS et al. .Zinc supplementation decreases incidence of infections in the elderly: effect of zinc on generation of cytokines and oxidative stress. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;85(3):837-44.

Prasad, A. S., et al. Zinc Status and Serum Testosterone Levels of Healthy Adults. Nutrition, 1996 May;12(5), 344-8.

Ottaviano, G et al. Olfactory sensitivity and sexual desire in young adult and elderly men: An introductory investigation. American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy, 2013 May; 27(3), , 157-161.

Raijer, J. Relationship between testosterone and erectile dysfunction. Reviews in Urology 2000; 2(2), 122-128.

Gonzalez, Alejandro et al. Zinc Intake from Supplements and Diet and Prostate Cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2009; 61(2): 206–215.

Hunt CD, Johnson PE, Herbel J, Mullen LK. Effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Jul;56(1):148-57.

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