Written by the UPGUYS Editorial Team
Published on July 27, 2022
Did you know that somewhere between 10% and 35% of Canadians in most age ranges and sex groups don't consume enough zinc? Further, 41% of men over the age of 70 years don't get an adequate amount of zinc.
Before recent research, scientists believed that zinc deficiencies only happened in the most vulnerable of populations. Now, researchers are finding that these unfulfilling diets are causing more problems.
To learn more about zinc and erectile dysfunction, keep reading.
In this article, we answer the following questions:
Zinc is a trace mineral, which means that our bodies do not need a lot of it to function properly. However, the effects of not having enough are devastating.
Zinc assists our bodies in carrying out over 100 chemical reactions every single day.
Despite its identity as a trace mineral, zinc performs multiple vital functions throughout the body, including the following:
Because of its vital role in growth and development, our bodies need more zinc during times of growth, most notably during infancy, childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy. Elderly individuals may also need more zinc due to dietary changes.
The daily requirement of zinc falls between 4 mg and 10 mg, depending on your age and sex. However, individuals who are pregnant may require up to 16 mg of zinc per day.
According to the National Institutes of Health in the United States, here are the recommended dietary allowances for zinc based on age and biological sex:
Most of your zinc intake should come from the foods you're eating. If you eat a relatively balanced diet, you should be getting plenty of zinc. However, there are plenty of foods rich in zinc if you need to add more to your diet.
One of the first major studies researchers did regarding the relationship between zinc and erectile dysfunction happened in 1996.
During this original study, young men ate a diet low in zinc, triggering a zinc deficiency. After incurring the deficiency, scientists measured the participants' testosterone levels.
Their testosterone dropped by almost 75% after following a low-zinc diet for 20 weeks.
The same study evaluated how taking in more zinc would affect elderly men. Researchers found that an increased zinc intake led to participants' testosterone levels nearly doubling.
More recently, in 2009, researchers conducted a study to re-evaluate the relationship between zinc and ED. In this study, scientists gave rats 5 mg of zinc supplementation per day, which led to greater sexual health among the rats.
With this, the study concluded that zinc has a positive effect on multiple aspects of sexual health in males, including better arousal and maintenance of an erection.
Another study from 2013 connected a good sense of smell to a healthy libido, especially in younger males. Researchers found that a poor sense of smell can reduce libido, most likely due to not being able to smell hormones that cause arousal.
They wanted to see if medically-proven ingredients were part of popular treatment regimens. So, they analyzed a wide variety of ED treatment options. In the end, zinc was among the most common ED ingredients.
Read more: A Guide To Foods That Can Help Your ED
These highlighted studies and hundreds more we didn't cover have shown the same connection repeatedly: zinc and erectile dysfunction are connected to one another.
Although it's a trace mineral, zinc benefits sexual health in multiple ways. From balancing testosterone levels to improving endurance, there's a lot to love about this vital mineral.
First, zinc balances testosterone levels. Consuming more zinc produces a higher level of testosterone. In turn, consuming low levels of zinc produces lower levels of testosterone.
We referenced a study looking at the relationships between testosterone and zinc levels earlier, but there's another stand-out study about this topic.
In 2003, researchers examined how zinc supplementation would affect elite wrestlers. Even though these individuals are popular for their high levels of testosterone, scientists found that zinc levels affected their testosterone, too. These individuals had higher levels of total and free testosterone with zinc supplementation.
Regardless of your diet and exercise, zinc directly affects testosterone levels.
Second, zinc promotes a healthy prostate.
Normal prostate tissue has ten times more zinc than other kinds of tissue in the body. As such, greater zinc levels can lead to healthier prostatic fluid and semen. Likewise, lower levels of zinc can lead to a healthy prostate with a much lower risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Third, zinc boosts sperm count, quality, and motility. If you're looking to have children any time soon, zinc supplementation may be necessary to improve your fertility.
Scientists have known for decades how good zinc is for sub-fertile men. In fact, supplementing with zinc can increase sperm counts and improve ejaculatory control.
The fourth and last effect that zinc has on sexual health is improving overall endurance. Zinc helps the body convert energy. So, a healthy level of zinc can increase performance during that special time.
Researchers have concluded that supplementing with zinc can increase endurance and performance, which can carry you throughout the day.
Zinc poisoning, or zinc toxicity, occurs when you take too much zinc. This can occur no matter how you take in your daily amount of zinc. Although, there haven't been any reported cases of zinc poisoning occurring from ingestion through foods.
If you're taking zinc supplementation, you should be aware of the signs of zinc toxicity in case you take a little too much one day. Here are the most common side effects you should be aware of:
If you believe you might be taking too much zinc, see a healthcare provider right away. Zinc toxicity is deadly, and you should receive treatment as soon as possible.
If you're worried about dealing with erectile dysfunction by taking zinc supplementation, talk to your physician about the right dosage for you. As long as they're monitoring your intake, you should be at low risk of developing dangerous levels of zinc.
The number one warning/precaution you should consider is zinc toxicity. Ingesting zinc in excess can result in toxicity. However, for patients who need it, zinc supplementation can have positive effects.
Talk with an ED physician to determine whether zinc supplementation is a good choice for you. They can help you find the right dosage.
Another consideration is that blood levels may not diagnose a deficiency well. When you ingest zinc, it travels all over the body. And your entire body only carries two to three grams of it at any given time.
A low blood level of zinc can indicate a deficiency, but a normal blood level does not rule out deficient levels of zinc. To further examine your zinc level, your physician may need to examine your hair or your sense of taste.
Lastly, you should consider how high levels of zinc can reduce copper and iron levels in the body. If your physician is monitoring your health issues, they should be able to test for these levels as well.
The link between zinc and erectile dysfunction is strong. Scientists and researchers have solidified how zinc affects sexual health, so much so that research studies aren't needed anymore.
Today's research about zinc and ED focuses on treatments for erectile dysfunction and dealing with erectile dysfunction on a day-to-day basis.
If you're considering a treatment to better your sexual health, talk to a physician about the right treatment plan for you.