Zinc And Erectile Dysfunction: Is There A Relationship?

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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.

One of the most recent health issues connected to zinc is erectile dysfunction (ED). Multiple studies have connected the two and shown that adequate levels of zinc may better sexual health.

To learn more about zinc and erectile dysfunction, keep reading.

In this article, we answer the following questions:


What Is Zinc and What Does It Do in the Body?

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:

  • Creating deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
  • Assisting in cell growth
  • Building proteins
  • Healing damaged tissue
  • Supporting the immune system

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.

Read more: Choosing Supplements To Treat Erectile Dysfunction

How Much Zinc Do We Need?

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:

  • 0-6 months: 2 mg for males and females
  • 7-12 months: 3 mg for males and females
  • 1-3 years: 3 mg for males and females
  • 4-8 years: 5 mg for males and females
  • 9-13 years: 8 mg for males and females
  • 14-18 years: 11 mg for males, 9 mg for females, 12 mg during pregnancy, 13 mg while lactating
  • 19+ years: 11 mg for males, 8 mg for females, 11 mg during pregnancy, 12 mg while lactating

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.

Read more: What Is Bluoxyn? All About This ED Supplement

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.

Lastly, we want to mention a more recent study about zinc-related health issues. In 2021, researchers looked at the most common ingredients in medications dealing with erectile dysfunction.

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.

What Are the Benefits of Zinc for Sexual Health?

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.

Zinc Balances Testosterone Levels

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.

Read more: Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy Good For You?

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.

Zinc Promotes a Healthy Prostate

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).

Read more: Erectile Dysfunction And The Prostate: What's The Relationship?

Zinc Boosts Sperm Count, Quality, and Motility

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.

Zinc Improves Endurance

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.

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Too Much Zinc?

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:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, and nasal congestion
  • Low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Changes in your tasting ability
  • Low levels of copper in your blood
  • Recurrent and frequent infections

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.

What Are the Warnings and Precautions to Consider When Taking 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.


Key Takeaways

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. 



Disclaimer
This article is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided in the articles cannot and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns or the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.