Zinc is an essential nutrient that everybody needs – but getting enough zinc is especially important for men, as a deficiency has been linked to lower testosterone levels.1
Because the human body doesn’t naturally produce zinc, we have to ingest it from certain vegetables, seafood, meat, or supplements.
Few people in the developed world suffer from zinc deficiency, as most people have a varied diet.2 However, some groups are at risk, including vegetarians, those with gastrointestinal illnesses (like Crohn’s), pregnant women, and alcoholics.3
Why is zinc essential for men?
The health benefits of zinc can benefit everyone, but zinc is especially important for men, because:
- Zinc deficiency decreases testosterone in men4
- Higher zinc levels are connected to better prostrate health, and zinc in the prostate functions as a tumour suppressor5
- One scientific study showed zinc supplements reduce erectile dysfunction in rats (however, further studies are required to show that zinc can treat human erectile dysfunction)6
- Zinc intake is positively correlated with increased libido7
Different benefits of zinc
Scientific studies show zinc has a wide range of health benefits, including:
Enhanced immune response
A zinc supplement a day is linked to better immune response, fewer infections, and cold symptoms subsiding faster.8,9
Zinc supplementation encourages collagen synthesis, which helps the body heal wounds quicker.10
One study showed that zinc ingestion reduces oxidative stress, which is connected to ageing and age-related diseases.11
Better mental health
Zinc deficiency is connected to increased rates of depression and ADHD. Zinc likely improves mental health, when taken in combination with other pharmaceuticals.12
When zinc is ingested or applied to the skin, it inhibits the ability of acne bacteria to develop and suppresses oil production by glands, for healthier skin overall.13
Zinc benefits for hair
Scientific studies have shown zinc deficiency has another negative impact on human health; increased hair loss in those who are already susceptible.14 Zinc is essential for protein synthesis, which helps the body produce keratin, the protein that’s chiefly associated with hair strength.15
Men suffer from hair loss at an increased rate to women, due to genetic and hormonal factors specific to the male physiology.16 This means taking zinc supplements may help men manage hair loss.
Potential side effects of zinc supplements
Most people take zinc supplements without any adverse effects.
However, zinc supplements have been linked to some side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach ache.17
‘Zinc-flu’ is rare, but can occur in people who ingest more than 40 mg of zinc per day. Symptoms resemble that of the common cold and include fever, coughing, headache, and tiredness.18
People on antibiotics may also want to avoid zinc supplements, as studies show zinc consumption can impede the body’s ability to absorb certain antibiotics.19
Last updated: 22 March 2021
Author: Donia Hilal
- Joined Holland & Barrett: January 2018
- Qualifications: : Bsc in Nutrition, Registered Associate Nutritionist, Certification in Pre and Post Natal Nutrition
Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018. Donia has 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one-to-one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.
Donia has a special interest in; weight management, plant-based nutrition, pregnancy nutrition, special diets and disease risk reduction.
View Donia's LinkedIn profile.
Author: Donia Hilal