Sexual Health

Can Zinc Treat Low Testosterone?

Testosterone is the key male sex hormone that regulates fertility, muscle mass, fat distribution, and red blood cell production.

Several functions rely on this particular hormone. When levels of testosterone decline, it can cause a man to experience a number of health problems. These health problems can include poor sexual function, mental disorders, and physical ailments. 

Treating low testosterone is essential. There are several treatments to help elevate serum testosterone concentration in the male body. This may help a man reach a normal testosterone level. A lot of men are looking for natural ways to boost their serum testosterone levels. This reduces the risks linked to hormone therapy. 

Research has suggested that dietary zinc intake may play a role in testosterone production. Some studies indicate that people with a zinc deficiency may experience a decline in testosterone levels.

In such a case, a testosterone booster with zinc may be useful. We look at what research says about the zinc testosterone relationship. We also consider why men need to avoid a low testosterone concentration in their bodies. 

Testosterone And Hypogonadism

Hypogonadism is a condition that refers to a low testosterone level in the male body. Studies have found that by the age of 65, at least 60% of all men will have low testosterone levels1.

Testosterone is a sex hormone. It is present in men and women. Among men, there is a much higher concentration of the hormone. 

The hormone has several effects on the male body. Receptors for testosterone are found throughout a man’s body. These receptors use testosterone to perform specific functions.

Some of the functions that rely on testosterone include2:

  • The growth of body hair and beard needs testosterone. The hormone stimulates the follicles, ensuring hair can grow. 

  • Testosterone is known to regulate libido. It helps a man feel interested in having sex. 

  • It also contributes to the production of healthy sperm. 

  • The hormone has an impact on certain behavioral traits in the male body. 

  • Fat metabolism also relies on testosterone. The hormone helps to distribute fat more evenly. This ensures there is not a significant accumulation of fat in the abdomen. 

  • The hormone also has a role to play in maintaining healthy bone density. 

  • Heart health relies on a healthy level of testosterone in the body.  

The testes primarily make testosterone in men. A small amount of the hormone is made in the kidneys too. Other hormones play a part in the production of testosterone. Luteinizing hormone is one example.

An imbalance in testosterone is more common among older men. After a man reaches the age of 30, there is a natural but slow decline in the amount of testosterone the body makes.

The decline is not significant enough for hypogonadism to develop. For this reason, the condition is not considered a normal part of aging. 

To determine if a man has hypogonadism, a doctor will need to order blood tests. These blood tests will provide a measurement of total testosterone in the body. The doctor may also request data on free testosterone. This helps the doctor determine if too many hormones are binding to proteins in the man’s body. 

The average “normal” testosterone level for adult men is around 679 ng/dL. The “normal range” is 270 ng/dL to 1070 ng/dL. Recent studies also suggest that men should aim to keep their testosterone within the range of 400 ng/dL to 600 ng/dL3. 

If a man’s testosterone levels fall below 270 ng/dL, he has a low level. In such a case, the doctor may diagnose the patient with hypogonadism. Appropriate treatment options will then be considered to help restore a balance in testosterone. The doctor may also order additional tests. This can help them see if other hormones, such as estrogen and thyroid hormone, are in balance. 

Causes Of Low Testosterone

There are multiple reasons why a man may experience a decline in their testosterone levels. As noted previously, testosterone does start to decline naturally after a man turns 30. While this happens, it is important to note that the natural decline is not enough to cause signs of hypogonadism

For this reason, men should consider potential causes if their testosterone declines too much. In some cases, it may be related to problems in the man’s lifestyle. In other situations, the man may have a disease that contributes to hypogonadism. 

Some of the reasons why men may experience a decline in testosterone include4:

  • Problems with the pituitary gland. This includes any type of dysfunction that affects the gland. A tumor in the pituitary gland also affects testosterone production. 

  • Men with chronic kidney failure are also at a high risk of developing a testosterone deficiency. 

  • HIV and AIDS patients are also generally suspected of experiencing a higher risk of hypogonadism. 

  • Certain metabolic disorders also contribute to the development of the condition. Hemochromatosis is one example of such a condition. 

  • Men who receive chemotherapy for cancer may experience a decline in testosterone levels. 

  • Sarcoidosis and other inflammatory diseases may also affect the body’s ability to make enough testosterone. 

  • Trauma to the testes is also known to contribute to a decline in testosterone production. The same can happen if the man develops orchitis. This is an infection that affects the testicles. 

Some medications are known to interfere with the body’s testosterone production process. These include opioids and steroids. Prednisone is an example of a steroid medication known to suppress testosterone secretion in the testes. Some hormones are given to men as part of cancer treatment also reduces the production of testosterone. 

Symptoms Of Low Testosterone

Men should understand what a decline in hormone levels can do to their bodies. When testosterone levels are low, several symptoms may occur. This is due to the reduced functionality provided by testosterone deficiency

A few of the symptoms that men may experience if they have hypogonadism include:

  • A reduction in libido is widespread. This often also leads to erectile dysfunction symptoms. A poor sex drive may reduce erectile function.

     
  • The man may notice that his muscle mass is declining. Physical strength may also not be what it used to be. 

  • An accumulation of fat in the belly may occur in men with low testosterone. 

  • Some men experience hot flashes. Night sweats can happen as well. 

  • Difficulty concentrating is another common sign of low testosterone. 

Zinc And Hypogonadism

Zinc is a mineral. It is one of the many essential minerals that people need to include in their daily diet. Dietary zinc intake plays a number of important roles in the human body. 

Most people know about the role that zinc plays in the immune system. Healthy levels of zinc help to keep the immune system strong. The mineral also ensures cells can divide properly and assists in the breakdown of food in the digestive tract. Furthermore, there are protein-building enzymes that also rely on zinc to function normally. 

Some studies now suggest that there may be a link between hypogonadism and low zinc levels in the body. Further research is still needed to help provide more details on how exactly the relationship works. Current evidence does provide some data into the subject. It does seem like zinc may have an impact on the body’s ability to make adequate levels of testosterone. 

Research And Studies

Only a few studies have been able to provide accurate evidence on the relationship between low testosterone and poor zinc intake. 

One study5 in the Journal of Exercise Physiology found that zinc does relate to testosterone, but only in certain situations. In the study, researchers looked at how zinc supplements affected testosterone levels in the body. 

It was found that men with healthy serum zinc levels in their body would not benefit from additional supplements. If additional supplements are provided, there is no improvement in testosterone production. 

On the other hand, improvements were found among men with a low zinc level in their blood. 

The study concluded that a deficiency in zinc should be addressed in men with hypogonadism. In this particular case, there might be an improvement in testosterone production. 

It should be noted that zinc was not used alone in this study. The researchers used a supplement that contained both zinc and magnesium. Men need to realize that magnesium is also an important mineral. The combination of the two might help men with a zinc deficiency gain a boost in testosterone.

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency can be severe since many functions in the human body rely on this mineral. Most men can obtain enough zinc in their daily diet. Men should get about 11mg of zinc on a daily basis. Many foods contain zinc, which is why it is generally easy to eat enough of the mineral every day. 

Some foods that men can eat to increase their zinc intake include:

  • Crab

  • Beef

  • Oysters

  • Beans

  • Pork

  • Fortified bread

  • Fortified cereal

  • Oatmeal

  • Nuts

  • Chicken

  • Yogurt

Several dietary supplements contain zinc. It is possible to buy a supplement that only provides a daily dose of zinc. Most vitamin and mineral supplements will also include some zinc.

Zinc supplementation can help to increase the daily intake of the mineral, but should not be the only source. These supplements often contain zinc sulfate. It is important to note that marginal zinc deficiency may require a stronger dose. 

Since it seems like zinc only helps increase testosterone when levels of the mineral are low, men should know how to recognize a deficiency in zinc. Vegetarians and vegans have a higher risk of a zinc deficiency. Alcoholics also have a higher risk of developing a deficiency in this mineral. Some gastrointestinal disorders should also be taken into consideration as risk factors. 

Conclusion

A deficiency in testosterone can cause problems with sexual health, fertility, mental well-being, and lead to several physiological complications in men. Increasing testosterone can be challenging.

While there are pharmaceutical interventions, men often try to address the underlying causes. Studies show that low zinc levels may be linked to a decline in testosterone. In such a case, a zinc supplement might be helpful. 

Sources

  1. Boston University School of Medicine. Prevalence, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Hypogonadism in Men. [online] Available at: https://www.bumc.bu.edu/sexualmedicine/publications/prevalence-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-hypogonadism-in-primary-care-practice/
  2. Healthline. (2014) The Effects of Testosterone on the Body. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone/effects-on-body#5
  3. MedicineNet. High and Low Testosterone Levels in Men. [online] Available at: https://www.medicinenet.com/high_and_low_testosterone_levels_in_men/views.htm
  4. Cleveland Clinic. Low Testosterone (Male Hypogonadism). [online] Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15603-low-testosterone-male-hypogonadism
  5. Journal of Exercise Physiology. (2000) Effects of a Novel Zinc-Magnesium Formulation on Hormones and Strength. [online] Available at: https://www.asep.org/asep/asep/BrillaV2.PDF

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  1. Muruu Wa Muthongá

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