The Link Between Zinc And Erectile Dysfunction

Men tend to depend greatly on their ability to perform in the bedroom. When a problem like erectile dysfunction develops, it can have a significant impact on a man’s life.

Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man is unable to perform sexually as he cannot maintain a successful erection

When it comes to looking at erectile dysfunction in men, the most common solution that comes to mind is usually Viagra.

There are several different drugs for ED. It has been found that Viagra does cause an improvement in erectile function for a lot of men1.

It is crucial, however, not to overlook the possibility of underlying factors. These can include poor testosterone production, mental conditions, and more. Underlying illnesses and factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction – and when treated, the erectile function could improve.

One often-overlooked factor that can affect men’s health and sexual function is nutritional deficiencies.

The body needs various nutrients to survive. Some of these nutrients affect the reproductive system, as well as sexual health. Zinc is one such nutrient that has received particular attention.

Zinc helps produce key sex hormones, such as testosterone and prolactin and play a role in creating prostatic fluid. There is evidence that dietary zinc may impact male sexual competency.

We take a closer look at zinc in this post. We will consider what zinc is, the potential side-effects that come with a zinc-related deficiency, and the benefits of zinc sexually.

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What Is Zinc?

Zinc is part of the range of minerals that the body depends on for normal functioning. The mineral is only needed in trace amounts and has a role to play in every single cell that is present in the human body.

Since zinc is required by all cells in the body2, it also means that the mineral plays a part in allowing a significant role in immune function.

One thing that should be noted is that the body does not produce its own zinc. This makes it crucial for a person to ensure they get enough zinc from food. Many foods contain zinc.

In addition to foods, it is also possible to obtain the mineral in the form of a dietary supplement. A large number of multi-vitamin supplements for men will include zinc.

Zinc is used for the treatment and prevention of zinc deficiency and its consequences, including stunted growth and acute diarrhea in children, slow wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function, and much more.

Men also need an adequate supply of zinc intake to maintain proper testosterone levels. Evidence also suggests that zinc is important for the maintenance of sperm health and overall sexual function in men.

Apart from these roles, zinc also helps the immune system stay strong. This ensures the immune system can ward off viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Zinc helps with the production of certain proteins. The production of DNA also relies on the presence of zinc.

Benefits of Zinc

  • May improve sexual health and testosterone levels: Observational studies show that low zinc status or deficiency is associated with low testosterone levels, poor sperm quality, and an increased risk of male infertility.

  • Reduces risk of BPH:  Zinc seems to play in the regulation of inflammation, regaining a balanced level of the mineral could benefit an enlarged prostate.

  • Minimizes cold symptoms: Studies have shown that oral zinc helps to reduce the length of colds when taken within 24 hours after symptoms start.

  • Helps Fight Acne: Zinc may help to fight and prevent acne.  Research has found that zinc can decrease oil production in the skin, and can protect against bacterial infection and inflammation.

  • Fire up Your Immune System:  Zinc keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds, and supports normal growth.

  • Zinc and Your Thyroid:  Zinc and other trace elements such as copper and selenium are required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, and deficiency of these can result in hypothyroidism. 

What Is Zinc Deficiency?

Zinc deficiency refers to a lack of an adequate zinc supply in the body. This occurs when a person does not consume foods and supplements that give them enough zinc.

The amount of zinc needed by the body depends on person to person. Many factors need to be taken into account. Men are generally advised to obtain more zinc than women. Age is another important factor that contributes to the amount of zinc needed by the human body.

Adult men should obtain a recommended 11mg of zinc daily. The same daily intake suggestions have been made for teenage boys between the ages of 14 and 18.

Before reaching 14, however, the recommended dosage for boys is generally much lower. At this point, the age of the boy will play a significant role in the daily dose needed. The dose will typically range between 2mg to 8mg of zinc.

Zinc deficiency is diagnosed based on blood tests. A healthcare practitioner needs to order these blood tests. They will tell the practitioner how much zinc is present in the patient’s blood.

This gives them a view on whether there is enough of the mineral in the body. These tests are ordered when a practitioner suspects a zinc deficiency in the patient. This is the case when symptoms associated with a deficiency of the mineral are noted, and other causes have been ruled out.

Risk Factors for Zinc Deficiency

Certain groups of people are more likely to have low zinc levels. Conditions that can cause an increased risk of zinc deficiency include:

  • gastrointestinal diseases

  • eating disorders

  • a purely vegetarian or low-protein diet

  • High levels of alcohol consumption can result in a zinc deficiency.

  • Some medications can reduce zinc levels. These include ACE inhibitors, thiazide diuretics, and stomach acid reducers like Prilosec. 

Zinc Deficiency And Erectile Dysfunction

Several clinical trials and studies have looked at the link between zinc and sexual health in men. It has been found previously that zinc seems to play a role in sperm production. Additionally, zinc also assists in the stimulation of hormone production.

First, it should be noted that zinc may not have a direct impact on erectile function. This, however, does not mean a deficiency will not affect male sexual health and performance. Due to the specific actions that zinc has in the body, erectile dysfunction could develop as a complication.

There is evidence that dietary zinc may impact male sexual competency.

2016 study also found that a supplement containing folic acid, zinc, and the herb golden root improved the ejaculatory control of those affected by premature ejaculation.

A study on rats found that zinc supplementation increased prolactin (PRL) and testosterone (T) levels compared to controls. Furthermore, the rats experienced improved sexual competence and sexual desire.

Some early research suggests that zinc supplementation increases sperm count, testosterone levels, and pregnancy rates in infertile men with low testosterone levels.

However, in male infertility, due to diseases or medical treatment, taking a zinc supplement has produced mixed results.

Erectile dysfunction actually has a lot of potential causes. A deficiency in testosterone is one particular contributing factor5.

Testosterone tends to regulate sex drive. When there is a lack of testosterone, men can experience a low libido. This in turn, can lead to problems with erectile function.

Common causes of ED

Certain conditions that can interfere with the absorption of zinc include:

  • Crohn’s disease

  • celiac disease

  • inflammatory bowel disease and ulcers

  • liver and kidney disease

How does zinc deficiency affect prostate health?

The prostate is an essential part of the reproductive system in the male body. This is a gland that produces prostate fluid, a substance that is mixed with sperm. The result of the combination is semen – which expells from the penis if the man ejaculates. Zinc also helps to keep the prostate gland healthy.

There seems to be a link between low testosterone and a higher risk of an enlarged prostate. This condition causes the prostate to become enlarged. It can also cause problems with prostate fluid production. Prostatitis can also develop in men with low zinc levels.

In addition to these, prostate cancer is another topic to focus on. It has been found that there is a possible connection between zinc and cancer of the prostate.

Men with a zinc deficiency may be at an increased risk for prostate cancer. Thus, adequate supplementation of the mineral could help to reduce the risk of this cancerous disease. So this is why many supplements made to help fight against a cold contains zinc.

Younger men who experience acne could also benefit from zinc. The use of zinc gluconate could potentially reduce inflammation. It also helps to ensure the skin can heal quickly. This may assist in reducing the effects of acne. The frequency and severity of acne breakouts could also decline.

Symptoms Of Zinc Deficiency

Since zinc plays such a big part in different functions of the body, there is a large number of symptoms that may indicate a deficiency.

When a zinc deficiency develops, the symptoms experienced can sometimes be similar to those caused by other conditions. Symptoms can include:

  • Slow healing wounds

  • The patient may suffer from diarrhea.

  • There may be a reduction in the patient’s appetite.

  • There may be open sores that develop on the patient’s skin.

  • Sudden weight loss that comes without any explanation.

  • There may be cognitive symptoms too. This often includes a reduction in the patient’s alertness.

Which Foods Provide Zinc?

The most effective way of treating a mild zinc deficiency is through dietary changes. By including certain foods in your diet that are high in zinc, it can help to ensure the body gets enough of the mineral. This would, in turn, reduce the effects of the deficiency. Zinc levels are restored to normal as well.

Many foods do contain zinc. Some of these have also been linked to a boost in sex drive and overall sexual function.

Some of the foods that men should eat more if they might suffer from a zinc deficiency include:

  • Oysters

  • Red meat

  • Seeds

  • Wild rice

  • Wheat germ

  • Poultry meat

  • Almonds

  • Peas

  • Cashews

  • Baked beans

These are, of course, only a few of the food options that are known to be rich in zinc. Other foods can also give a man enough zinc to experience the benefits we mentioned.

Some foods can actually contribute to erectile dysfunction.

Zinc Supplements

Apart from food, dietary supplements also offer zinc. Different types of supplements offer zinc as an ingredient. Sometimes the supplement will only contain zinc. And in other cases, the supplement will contain a combination of minerals and vitamins.

When using a supplement, men should look for a product specifically made for the male body. These products usually contain specialized formulas. The formulas focus on giving men the nutrients the male body needs specifically.

When using supplements, men should ensure they get enough zinc. At the same time, it is also not advised to overdose on zinc. Too much zinc could also lead to possible problems in the body. These could be harmful to the male body as well. Thus, a good balance, with a recommended 11mg zinc per day, should be followed.

Safety precautions for zinc supplements

The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board warns adults not to consume more than 40 mg of zinc daily to avoid side effects or toxicity.

Common symptoms of mild zinc toxicity include:

  • cramping

  • diarrhea

  • nausea

More severe zinc toxicity can also cause:

  • headaches

  • fever

  • loss of muscle coordination

  • drowsiness

Long-term zinc toxicity can cause anemia and dramatically weaken the immune system.

Conclusion

Sexual dysfunction in men, including a reduction in erectile function, can be a sign of an underlying issue. In some cases, a deficiency of zinc may be the underlying factor contributing to poor erections.

A zinc deficiency can cause several adverse effects in men, due to its role in maintaining testosterone levels, immunity, and more. So, maintaining appropriate daily intake of zinc is essential for all men. It can also be helpful to supplement with zinc in cases where sexual performance lacks.

Summary
The Link Between Zinc and Erectile Dysfunction
Article Name
The Link Between Zinc and Erectile Dysfunction
Description
Zinc boosts testosterone levels in men and can help with erectile dysfunction. Still, zinc isn't a proven treatment. Discover the health benefits of zinc sexually.
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Bens Natural Health
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Sources

  1. International Journal of Clinical Practice. (2000) Sildenafil citrate (Viagra) is effective and well-tolerated for treating erectile dysfunction of psychogenic or mixed etiology. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11220982
  2.  National Institutes of Health. Zinc. [online] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/
  3. Healthline. (2017) Zinc Deficiency. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/zinc-deficiency#symptoms
  4.  Oregon State University. Zinc. [online] Available at: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/zinc
  5.  Frontiers of Hormone Research. (2009) Erectile dysfunction and testosterone deficiency. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19011292
Alternative Text

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Founder of ZayedMD, Dr. Ahmed believes in making the knowledge as accessible as possible to patients. He had his work featured in reputable publications such as The Huffington Post. Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Ahmed spends​ his time outside the hospital at the gym or with a good book.

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