Zinc And Sexual Health
Zinc is one of the important minerals that are linked with boosting immunity, growth, and reproduction in human subjects. It is also known to regulate the serum levels of certain hormones including testosterone. In fact, some studies have suggested a very strong link between deficiency of this mineral and incidence of erectile dysfunction (ED). Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain strong erections throughout the sexual act. It occurs due to certain physical and psychological factors. Nearly 30,000 Americans suffers from ED, says the American Urological Association. Among several factors, following are the common causes of ED:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Medicines that reduces intestinal absorption
- Smoking/alcoholism/drug abuse
- Zinc deficiency
Zinc supplements have been quoted as a potential treatment for ED in men with long term renal diseases. It plays a vital role in the growth and optimal functioning of male reproductive organs. Men who are deficient in this mineral tend to have underdeveloped testes and lower sperm counts.
In one study, rats supplemented with moderate doses of zinc sulfate on regular basis were found to have significantly improved penile thrusting and ejaculation.
Another study carried out in 2016 indicated that this mineral and folic acid containing supplements and gold herb root improves ejaculation control in men have complaints of premature ejaculation.
Zinc Deficiency – What Should You Know About It?
Around 17% people worldwide are zinc deficient. Symptoms of deficiency of this mineral include:
- Slow wound healing
- Poor immunity
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea (long term)
- Loss of energy
- Long term respiratory infections
- Hair loss or thinning
- Incomplete or late sexual maturity
- Sensory impairment
Causes of deficiency of this mineral are rare but in most cases, it is thought to be due to malnutrition or imbalanced diet. Around 2 billion people in developing countries have mild to moderate deficiency of this mineral. A moderate deficiency is not lethal for adults but it can impede optimal growth and development in children. Usually children or elderly (age above 65) and pregnant women are at higher risk for developing zinc deficiency. People who are religiously vegan may also become zinc deficient, as it is mainly found in shellfish and meat. Furthermore, certain cereal grains and legumes also contain phytic acid which inhibits absorption of this mineral.
Disease conditions that may interfere with zinc absorption includes;
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Kidney and liver diseases
Since zinc is found in various foods, the best and easiest way to get zinc is through natural dietary sources. Following are the foods that are enriched with zinc:
- Green beans, soy beans, lime beans
- Dark chocolate
- Sesame, pumpkin and squash seeds
- Cooked oysters
- Veal liver
- Cooked lean beef
- Nuts, specifically cashews
- Toasted wheat germs
- Fortified cereals (not with high sugar)
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
The RDA for zinc depends upon the age and gender. Most Americans are able to meet their daily requirements via beef, pork, and legumes. Mineral supplements are also available for those who are unable to get this mineral through dietary sources. However, these supplements are not FDA regulated and may be labelled incorrectly.
This mineral should not be consumed at a dose of more than 40mg/day, says The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board. Mild zinc toxicity may cause stomach cramping, nausea, and diarrhea. Whereas, severe toxicity may lead to fever, headache, drowsiness, and lack of muscle coordination. Long term toxicity may result into anemia and drastic weakening of immune system.
- Campbell, M. M., & Stein, D. J. (2014). Sexual dysfunction: A systematic review of South African research. SAMJ: South African Medical Journal, 104(6), 439-440.
- Prasad, A. S. (2013). Discovery of human zinc deficiency: its impact on human health and disease. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 4(2), 176-190.
- Rambhatla, A., & Mills, J. N. (2016). Impact of the Environment on Male Sexual Health. Current Sexual Health Reports, 8(1), 1-8.