You need a whole variety of minerals in order to enjoy good health.
In many ways one of the most important of minerals that specifically help you with your prostate health.
The prostate is a small gland that is only found in the male body. It is about the size of a walnut and sits just below the bladder, close to the rectum. The prostate itself serves a particularly important role in male sexual health.
This gland secretes a fluid that is important for the protection of sperm. When sperm combines with the fluids from the prostate gland, it is known as semen.
While this is the functionality of the prostate gland in healthy men, certain conditions may affect the prostate.
In turn, problems can develop, ranging from urinary consistency to cancer. Several treatments are available for prostate conditions, but the side-effects cause concern.
Zinc has been suggested as a positive supplement that may be good for promoting a healthier prostate.
It may also have some beneficial effects in cases where an existing condition has developed.
What is Zinc?
Before we consider whether zinc is good for the prostate, let’s first take a moment to look at what exactly zinc is and what it does in the human body.
Zinc is one of the many nutrients that the human body needs to function correctly – in fact, the nutrient is critical to our survival.
Zinc is a type of mineral. We only need small amounts of this mineral each day to support the particular functions that rely on the presence of zinc.
Zinc is found in every single cell that is in the body. The mineral plays several roles that help cells function correctly.
It has a critical part to play in the function of the immune system, ensuring viruses, bacteria, and other invaders can be fought off effectively.
This mineral is also needed to produce DNA. DNA is the genetic makeup that is part of who we are – and also forms part of all cells. The production of proteins also relies on the presence of zinc.
Other functions that depend on zinc include gene expression, wound healing, and specific enzymatic reactions.
During pregnancy, the fetus will rely on zinc for optimal growth. Even during infancy, this mineral assists with the growth and development of the child’s body.
One crucial factor to note about zinc is that the human body is not able to produce this mineral by itself. Thus, a person needs to ensure they consume foods that can provide them with an adequate amount of zinc daily.
Luckily, various food sources contain zinc, which is why many people are already getting enough of the mineral for supporting the cellular function it is involved in.
What does Zinc do for the prostate?
A lot of research has been done regarding the role that zinc plays in the prostate. At the moment, however, it has been found that the results are quite mixed and confusing.
Some studies have shown that zinc is a beneficial supplement for the prostate gland, but others have linked the intake of this mineral to potentially harmful effects.
Zinc is present in the cells that make up the prostate. That is one fact that all studies can agree on. Just like the mineral plays a role in all other cells throughout the body, it does so in the cells that make up the prostate gland too.
According to one study, there is a much higher concentration of zinc within the cells of the prostate gland, when compared to cells located in any other part of the human body.
Zinc seems to play several roles in the prostate gland. In one study, it was shown that zinc might impact certain transcription factors. In particular, the AP-1 and the NF-kappaB transcription factors were noted in the study.
The NF-kappaB transcription factor has previously been associated with the release of cytokines that regulate inflammation – and, more specifically, may have a link to the development of tumor growth in the prostate gland.
Thus, the presence of zinc in the prostate gland might, in part, be responsible for ensuring inflammation in the area is kept to a minimum.
Is Zinc good for an enlarged prostate?
We have already noted that zinc plays a role in the immune system. We also cited a study that showed how zinc modulated certain transcription factors and, in turn, has a role in inflammatory responses.
Another study, published in the Journal of Inflammopharmacology, looked at how zinc affected inflammatory responses throughout the entire human body.
The researchers behind the study explain that the mineral zinc influences the specific immune responses that are involved in inflammation. Appropriate levels of the zinc mineral in the human body seem to exhibit an anti-inflammatory effect.
Since it has been established that zinc does play a role in the regulation of inflammatory responses, we can proceed to look at what an enlarged prostate is.
While the cause behind this condition still remains a mystery in many cases, researchers do know that an enlarged prostate means there is inflammation affecting this particular gland.
A clinical trial, published in the Indian Journal of Urology, looked at the zinc status of patients who had previously been diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). There was also a group of patients with prostate carcinoma involved in the study – the same tests were performed on participants in this group.
Levels of zinc were measured in prostate tissue. Researchers also tested the zinc/creatinine ratio in the urine of all participants who were part of the study.
All results were compared to samples and results obtained from male patients who did not have either one of these conditions – with tissue being considered “normal” or otherwise “healthy.”
Two important conclusions were made in this study, showing a clear relationship between zinc and an enlarged prostate.
- Among those patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia, zinc levels declined in prostate tissue by an average of 61% when these results were matched to zinc levels in normal tissue.
- The amount of zinc expelled through urine in those patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia increased by 20% on average, when compared to the results obtained from the participants who did not have this condition or prostate carcinoma.
This study provided evidence that there is a lower concentration of zinc found in the prostate tissue, as well as generally in the bodies, of those individuals who develop an enlarged prostate.
Additionally, the body also seems to expel more zinc when this particular condition has developed.
With this in mind, the reduction in zinc levels detected among individuals with an enlarged prostate might indicate a need for additional supplementation with the mineral.
Due to the role that zinc seems to play in the regulation of inflammation, regaining a balanced level of the mineral could benefit an enlarged prostate.
There are, however, other supplements that may further contribute to improvements in symptoms.
Is Zinc good for prostatitis?
Prostatitis is another condition where zinc may yield positive effects. This particular condition usually refers to an acute set of symptoms that develop, which include inflammation that occurs within the prostate gland.
The inflammation can lead to several potential complications.
The patient may find that urination becomes difficult. This happens because the swelling of the prostate gland leads to a restriction in the urethra.
When we take a look at the role of zinc in prostatitis, we will definitely see many similarities with what we have discussed previously.
The significant difference here is the fact that prostatitis will generally lead to an acute case of inflammation.
The utilization of zinc supplementation in the case of prostatitis might, however, still yield an anti-inflammatory effect in some individuals – especially when levels of zinc in the person’s body is lower than what it should be.
Can Zinc protect against prostate cancer?
Things get a little more complicated when we start to look at the relationship between zinc and prostate cancer.
The results are mixed, which can make things confusing. Should a person take zinc to lower their risk of prostate cancer, or will this end up causing more damage, and ultimately contribute to this dreaded disease?
There are a few studies that have been conducted on this topic. It is essential to consider all reviews. This way, it becomes easier to make an accurate conclusion – and a more informed decision can be made.
Let’s start by looking at a study that was published in the Open Urology & Nephrology Journal.
Researchers at the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center compiled this report, stating that there is a lot of confusion regarding the relationship between zinc and prostate cancer.
The research paper explains that studies confirmed a reduction in zinc levels found in prostate tissue among patients who develop cancer in this particular gland.
There also seems to be a reduction in the general uptake of zinc in the body of such a patient. At the same time, malignant cells start to accumulate, which then eventually leads to the growth of a cancerous tumor in the prostate gland.
The same research paper describes that it was previously found that an increase in the accumulation of this mineral within the cells of the prostate seems to prevent the collection of prostate cancer cells in the area.
What this means is that when zinc levels in the prostate are maintained at an adequate level, the mineral could help to effectively reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Primarily by reducing the likelihood that cancer cells could collect in this area.
As mentioned previously, studies do seem to present mixed results. A clinical study published in the Prostate Journal examined the levels of serum zinc in patients with prostate cancer and compared the results to normal patients without cancer.
This was a relatively large study, which is something we should note here. There were 783 control subjects involved in the study, along with 392 patients diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Among the control group and the prostate cancer group, there wasn’t a statistically significant difference in serum zinc levels when blood samples from participants were measured.
The study concluded that the evidence presented may suggest that zinc could not be such a beneficial supplement in the prevention of prostate cancer. The researchers do, however, advise that further studies are needed.
Does Zinc supplementation increase the risk of prostate cancer?
We have established that the results are mixed when it comes to whether or not zinc supplements can prevent the occurrence of prostate cancer.
On the other hand, some studies suggest using zinc supplementation could actually increase a person risk of prostate cancer.
When looking at whether zinc supplementation may cause an increased risk of prostate cancer, some factors need to be taken into consideration.
Most studies show that the maintenance of adequate zinc levels protects against the formation of cancerous tumors within the prostate gland.
On the other hand, one recent follow-up study among more than 45,000 health professionals provided quite interesting findings. Among the participants in the study, a very high intake of zinc supplementation seems to be linked to an increased risk of more advanced prostate cancer.
The risk was increased 2.9 times among those who took more than 100 mg/d of zinc supplementation daily. It should be noted, however, that this risk was linked to the long-term use (10 years and longer) of such a high dose zinc supplement.
Some people take even higher concentrations of zinc. At 150 mg/d, the supplement may cause a dysfunction of the immune system.
The circulating levels of a compound known as insulin-like growth factor I also increases with such high levels of zinc.
The increase in insulin-like growth factor I may be another element that contributes to an increased risk of prostate cancer, particularly a more advanced type of the disease.
How much Zinc for prostate health?
As we have now determined, obtaining an adequate amount of zinc daily might help to prevent certain conditions from affecting the prostate gland.
Inflammation can be effectively regulated due to the anti-inflammatory properties that zinc exhibits.
When levels of zinc can be adequately maintained in prostate cells, it could help to reduce the risk of malignant cell accumulation.
On the other hand, we should also take note of the fact that too much zinc can be harmful – not only for the prostate gland but for the rest of the body as well.
There are specific recommendations that have been made. Men should ensure they adhere to these recommendations – it is vital to consider the recommended and maximum amounts.
Additionally, we should also consider the specific measures that have been mentioned in the studies that we have looked at in the previous sections.
Below is an overview of zinc recommendations for adolescent boys, as well as adult men:
- Teenage boys between the age of 14 and 18 should obtain 11mg of zinc per day.
- Adult men are advised to get 11mg of zinc per day.
The upper limit of zinc on a daily basis is advised at 34mg for teenage boys between 14 and 18, and 40mg for adult men.
Going over these limits can result in potentially harmful adverse effects. In the previous studies mentioned, it was found that at 100 mg per day, the risk of the prostate can seem to increase, and this could lead to a more aggressive form of the illness.
What is the best form of Zinc for prostate health?
When it comes to increasing the intake of zinc one of the first thoughts is to buy a zinc supplement.
While it is possible to get dietary zinc, the use of a supplement may provide a person with that extra peace of mind. Especially when concerned about conditions like prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
There are different forms of zinc available in supplement form. This can be quite confusing for the average man who is looking to take a tablet that will benefit his prostate.
Understanding the differences between these forms of zinc is important, as some of them are absorbed into the body more effectively than others.
The lower-priced zinc supplements usually tend to include a form of the nutrient known as Zinc Gluconate. This is a common zinc supplement that can be found over-the-counter. Zinc Gluconate is often used in cold medicines.
For those who want a budget-friendly zinc supplement, an alternative option would be Zinc Citrate. The taste of this alternative option is considered an improvement by most people, and the absorption rate is not affected.
When a person is at risk of zinc deficiency, they may be provided with a form of the supplement known as Zinc Sulfate. This particular supplement is also often offered to people with acne.
The best supplements for prostate health
Several supplements have been suggested to help improve prostate health in men. While zinc is commonly advised, there are many other supplements that men often read about as well.
Beta-Sitosterol supplements are relatively common among men with benign prostatic hyperplasia. The supplement will not help to reduce the enlargement of the prostate but has been found to improve urinary symptoms naturally.
For general prostate health, Saw Palmetto is sometimes advised as well. Saw Palmetto seems to be especially useful in men who experience BPH symptoms, including frequent nighttime urination (nocturia), as well as those who are having problems with urine flow.
The prostate gland plays an important role in providing the nourishment, as well as protection that sperm requires for successful reproduction.
Zinc is a mineral that the body needs for various functions, and it seems to also play a role in the maintenance of a healthy prostate gland.
While the effects of zinc may be beneficial for prostate problems, it should be noted that too much of this particular nutrient may be harmful.