Zinc is one of those minerals you’ve probably already heard your doctor talk about. Zinc is involved in manifold bodily processes ranging from cell division and cell growth to wound healing and the breakdown of carbohydrates. We naturally obtain Zinc from out diet, but many people do not get enough. According to Medical News Today, 1.1 billion people worldwide are deficient in the mineral (link). These people obviously stand the most to gain from supplementing Zinc, but the benefits of Zinc are for everyone.
1. Zinc Improves Sleep Quality
This study examined the effect of zinc supplementation on the sleep quality of nurses in an intensive care unit. Researchers found that the intervention group (those who supplemented Zinc) scored higher on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, which measures things like sleep duration, sleep efficiency, and sleep disturbances. The supplemented group also scored lower on sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) and subjectively rated their sleep quality better than the control group.
Other recent studies have come to the same conclusion. A review of the literature observed, “Recent research has concluded that zinc serum concentration varies with the amount of sleep, while orally administered zinc increases the amount and the quality of sleep in mice and humans.”
2. Zinc Raises Testosterone Levels
This study put sedentary men through a 4-week cycling routine and found that exercise decreased thyroid and testosterone levels. However, in the group that supplemented Zinc, thyroid and testosterone levels were substantially higher. The researchers concluded, “The results indicate that exercise decreases thyroid hormones and testosterone in sedentary men; however, zinc supplementation prevents this decrease.”
In a second study from 1996, dietary zinc restriction in young men resulted in a decrease in serum testosterone levels. The researchers also found that supplementing Zinc in elderly men who were moderately deficient in the mineral resulted in an increase in serum testosterone levels.
In a third study done on ZMA supplementation (Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B-6), participants who took 30mg of Zinc over an 8-week period observed a substantial 25% increase in free testosterone levels. This is something to keep in mind even though we do not know the precise role Zinc played given the presence of two other minerals.
It may follow from the data above that Zinc increases free testosterone in normal adults and testosterone in exercise and Zinc-deficient groups.
3. Zinc Improves Sperm Health
A meta-analysis of the scientific literature found that Zinc supplementation improved sperm health and several markers of fertility. The researchers observed, “Our meta-analysis results indicated that the seminal plasma zinc concentrations from infertile males were significantly lower than those from normal controls. . . Zinc supplementation was found to significantly increase the semen volume, sperm motility and the percentage of normal sperm morphology. . .”
Zinc is also known to raise libido (start taking it and you’ll know exactly what I mean).. This may have to do with the combined effect of benefits #1, #2 and #3.
4. Zinc For The Immune System
Zinc’s vital role in immune system health has been well documented. Zinc researcher Ananda Prasad summarized research done on Zinc and immune function: “The zinc-deficient patients had severe immune dysfunctions, inasmuch as they died of intercurrent infections by the time they were 25 years of age. In our studies in an experimental human model of zinc deficiency, we documented decreased serum testosterone level, oligospermia, severe immune dysfunctions mainly affecting T helper cells, hyperammonemia, neurosensory disorders, and decreased lean body mass” (link).
I have not come across any studies demonstrating a supplement-induced increase in immune system function in people not deficient in the mineral. To my mind more studies would need to be done to confirm this link. However, the immune system is a primary reason a Zinc-deficient individual should consider supplementation. Immune system function also happens to be the benefit most commonly touted on most Zinc products.
Where To Buy Zinc:
You can get Zinc on the cheap at any store that sells supplements or online at Amazon. My favorite Zinc product is Nature’s Wonder Zinc 50mg Tablets. I used to take 50mg of Zinc Gluconate every day for years when I was hitting the gym heavy, but now I take it about every two or three days. For a ZMA supplement with 30mg of Zinc that was found to increase free testosterone by 25% in the study cited above, check out MET-Rx ZMA Supplement 90 Capsules. You will be hard-pressed to find a better value product.
Zinc supplementation is widely recommended for its many health benefits. My late uncle who was a medical doctor surprisingly didn’t give much health advice. But he did tell me and all my brothers to supplement with Zinc on the daily. After reviewing the medical literature, I can clearly see why.