Testosterone is the it hormone for men. It’s what makes a man, a man. It’s what drives that animalistic strength, power, and energy. And it’s the foundation for sex drive.
But the truth of the matter is that like every other hormone, maintaining proper testosterone levels takes work. Plenty of factors can interfere with production, so keeping an eye on diet and lifestyle becomes key if you don’t want it to take a nosedive.
In fact, studies show that over the past decade, testosterone prescriptions have climbed exponentially in the US from 700,000 per year in 2000 to more than 2.7 million in 2008 1. And for men, it’s not just age-related decline that’s contributing to this epidemic.
Despite what most people think, low testosterone doesn’t just zap your sex drive. It’s also a huge factor in things like hair loss, low energy, weight gain, decreased muscle mass, mood swings, and bone loss—all things you want to avoid regardless of age.
So, if you’re looking for an easy, effective, and natural way to boost your testosterone levels, taking a look at how much zinc you’re consuming may be a good place to start!
What Is Testosterone And Why Is It Important?
Testosterone is generally the first thing that comes to mind when you think about muscles and sex drive. It’s the epitome of manliness, and it’s the hormone responsible for the manly energy and qualities that all men possess—facial hair, body hair, deep voice, sex drive, and everything else that’s characteristic of the male species.
Testosterone is the major sex hormone (androgen) produced in the Leydig cells of the testes, but it is also produced in small quantities by the adrenal glands, and levels are tightly controlled by the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, which means that any interference with HPA function is going to interfere with levels of testosterone indirectly.
In the simplest way possible, hypothalamic stimulation results in the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which, in turn, stimulates Leydig cells to produce testosterone 2.
However, it’s important to note that for most men, testosterone levels will remain high throughout their life, but not to the same extent as they were in your 20s.
Levels appear to hit their peak around the late teens and remain high until the 40s, when they start to decline by about 1% per year. But unlike women who hit a stark halt in hormone production during menopause, androgen decline happens at a much slower pace 3, 4.
But aside from sex drive, testosterone is also needed for 1, 5:
- Bone mineral density
- Strength and muscle mass
- Insulin sensitivity
- Mood balance
Symptoms Of Low Testosterone
Low testosterone doesn’t just happen as a natural part of aging, but can also be caused by issues with either the testes or higher up in the HPA axis, which are classified into 6:
- Primary hypogonadism: The result of underactive testes causing low testosterone production. This is usually due to an inherited genetic trait or physical injury to the testes.
- Secondary hypogonadism: Caused by damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus—the control centers of testosterone production. This can result from an inherited condition or disease, along with aging, obesity, medications, or concurrent illnesses.
In either situation, low testosterone can result in symptoms like:
- Low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hair loss
- Loss of muscle mass
- Increased body fat
- Mood changes
- Memory impairment
- Small testicles
- Low blood count
If you suspect you may be low in testosterone, the good news is that there are several natural ways you can increase it, and one of the easiest ways is to consume more zinc!
The Link Between Zinc And Testosterone
Zinc is a trace mineral that’s important for several essential functions in the body, ranging from immune health and wound healing, to growth and development, skin health, and male gonadal development and function.
As the second most abundant trace mineral in the human body, zinc has some hefty roles. And in case everything we mentioned before wasn’t enough to show you just how important it is, its role in testosterone synthesis should.
If you’ve heard about the link between oysters and your sex drive (oysters are an aphrodisiac), you may be surprised to know that oysters are also one of the most concentrated sources of zinc. Even a moderate zinc deficiency has been linked to hypogonadism in males 7.
Zinc has been linked to several aspects of male reproduction, including testicular development, testosterone synthesis, and sperm quality 8. That may be partially because it serves as a cofactor for numerous metalloenzymes involved in DNA and protein synthesis, which are critical to germ cell development.
Studies find that zinc-deficient diets result in a drastic drop in testosterone levels, along with impaired spermatogenesis, sperm motility, and function 7.
One study sought to investigate the effects of zinc restriction on testosterone levels. For 20 weeks, dietary zinc intake was restricted in younger men, which resulted in a drop in testosterone levels from an average of 39.9 nmol/L to 10.6 nmol/L 7.
On the flip side, they also took older adults deficient in zinc and provided supplementation for 24 weeks. At the end of the study, serum testosterone levels had increased from an average of 8.3 nmol/L to 16.0 nmol/L. Though the study was small, it does indicate the importance of zinc in testosterone synthesis.
How Much Zinc To Support Testosterone Levels
So, do you want to boost your testosterone levels naturally? Zinc can help!
Because zinc is a trace mineral, it’s not required in large amounts to do its job. Actually, a high intake of zinc can actually be more problematic than anything due to interference with the function of other nutrients.
However, if you’re looking to boost testosterone levels, ensuring you’re getting enough through diet, besides supplementation, may be a good idea.
That’s because dietary zinc absorption can be inhibited by several factors, including 9:
- Protein quantity and quality
- Casein phosphopeptides (CPP)
- Phytates and fiber
Generally speaking, there are two classifications for zinc: Estimated average requirement (EAR) and recommended dietary allowance (RDA); EAR is the nutrient intake value estimated to meet the requirement of half the healthy individuals in a group.
The EAR for men over the age of 19 is 9.4mg per day, whereas the RDA for men over 19 is 11mg 10.
Studies suggest that a common and safe recommendation for zinc supplementation for treating male hypogonadism is 220mg of zinc sulfate, equivalent to 50mg of elemental zinc twice daily for one to four months 11.
However, it’s also important to note that several sources indicate 40mg is the maximum amount of zinc the body can tolerate in a single dose. One study found that a combination of magnesium and 30mg zinc supplementation daily increased free testosterone levels 12.
Testo Lab Pro® supplies 30mg of patented NutriGenesis® zinc. Performance Lab® proprietary NutriGenesis® vitamins and minerals are a nutrition technology breakthrough complexed with natural cofactors including probiotics, fiber, enzymes, and antioxidants; they’re nature-identical nutrients with enhanced bioavailability and activity.
Where To Find Zinc
In addition to supplementation, zinc is widely available in both plant and animal sources. Some good options include:
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate (70-85% cacao)
Be mindful of plant-based sources of zinc, as they contain anti-nutrients that interfere with the absorption of zinc. Ensure they’re being cooked correctly to minimize the effect and increase absorption/bioavailability.
At the end of the day, testosterone synthesis requires several different nutrients, but zinc plays a major role.
Not only is it essential to be tailoring your diet and lifestyle choices to support hormone balance, but also ensuring you’re getting adequate amounts of zinc is key to maintaining your manly, animalistic nature throughout the course of your life and never having to worry about low testosterone.
- MM Shores, NL Smith, CW Forsberg, BD Anawalt, AM Matsumoto. Testosterone treatment and mortality in men with low testosterone levels. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012;97(6):2050-2058.
- P Dandona, MT Rosenberg. A practical guide to male hypogonadism in the primary care setting. Int J Clin Pract. 2010;64(6):682-696.
- SM Harman, EJ Metter, JD Tobin, J Pearson, MR Blackman. Longitudinal effects of aging on serum total and free testosterone levels in healthy men. Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001;86(2):724-731.
- HA Feldman, C Longcope, CA Derby, et al. Age trends in the level of serum testosterone and other hormones in middle-aged men: longitudinal results from the Massachusetts male aging study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2002;87(2):589-98.
- C Wang, G Cunningham, A Dobs, et al. Long-term testosterone gel (AndroGel) treatment maintains beneficial effects on sexual function and mood, lean and fat mass, and bone mineral density in hypogonadal men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004;89(5):2085-2098.
- P Kumar, N Kumar, DS Thakur, A Patidar. Male hypogonadism: Symptoms and treatment.J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2010;1(3):297-301.
- AS Prasad, CS Mantzoros, FW Beck, JW Hess, GJ Brewer. Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. 1996;12(5):344-348.
- YL Liu, MN Zhang, GY Tong, et al. The effectiveness of zinc supplementation in men with isolated hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Asian J Androl. 2017;19(3):280-285.
- B Lö Dietary factors influencing zinc absorption.J Nutr. 2000;130(5S Suppl):1378S-83S.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Micronutrients. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001. 12, Zinc. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222317/
- HO Santos, FJ Use of medicinal doses of zinc as a safe and efficient coadjutant in the treatment of male hypogonadism. Aging Male. 2020;23(5):669-678.
- LR Brilla, V Conte. Effects of a Novel Zinc-Magnesium Formulation on Hormones and Strength. JEP. 2000; 3(4):24-36.