Zinc and Testosterone – A Mineral Crucial to Male Health

Is there any special zinc-testosterone relationship we as men should know about?

That’s the kind of question I kept getting online from many of you, and one I’ve often heard being asked at my local gym quite often.

Well, I decided to look into it to see if there really is any link between zinc and testosterone, and if taking zinc for a testosterone boost is a good idea.

I aim to cover pretty much everything related to this, so if you’re in a bit of a hurry right now, feel free to just skip to the conclusion, and check out the rest later.

Zinc is we as humans need for proper nutrition, though that’s not zinc’s only highlight. It’s also handles physiological processes in your body:

What Is Zinc?

Zinc is one of the many trace minerals
  • It influences the production of cells.
  • It affects your gut health
  • It keeps your immune system in good shape.
  • It upregulates tons of enzymes.
  • It aids with DNA synthesis.

And, of course, it has a positive impact on your reproductive health (yep, that includes your testosterone levels too).

Are Your Zinc Levels Optimal? Here Are the 5 Main Signs of Zinc Deficiency

Research suggests that approximately 25% of the world’s population is at risk of experiencing zinc deficiency. Another source claims that around 17.3% of the world’s population doesn’t get an adequate zinc intake.

Given that the total world population is around 7.6 billion, that means anywhere between 1.3 and 1.9 billion people suffer from zinc deficiency.

That alone got me worried enough that I decided to check if I suffer from that, and I’m thinking you might feel the same way. That’s exactly why I added this short list in the intro.

Now before we get to the signs - yes, there are way more signs that point to zinc deficiency than the ones I will outline here, but I figured it’s best to focus on the ones that would be the most relevant to you.

After all, zinc deficiency might be linked to acute diarrhea, for instance, but I can’t say that would be of much interest for you since all the research has been done on infants in developing countries, not men in their prime.

So, let’s get started:

1. You Start Getting Bald Patches

zinc deficieny leads to hair loss

Hair loss is any man’s worst nightmare (well maybe not worst, but it ranks among the top).

Before we discuss this, though, I should mention that bald patches are not a 100% sign your zinc intake is low - they can also be a genetic issue that might have nothing to do with your intake of nutriments. 

As to how zinc affects your hair, it’s pretty simple - zinc is pretty important for tissue growth and repair, and it also has an impact on how well the oil glands around your hair follicles do their job.

A zinc deficiency could potentially cause slow growth hair or even hair loss. 

To back up that claim, I managed to come across this study which concluded that people with Alopecia Areata (a skin disorder that causes bald patches) had significantly low serum zinc levels.

So, I’d say there’s definitely a link between zinc deficiency and bald patches.

2. Your Wounds Aren’t Healing Fast Enough

If you live an active life, you might end up with an occasional scratch, cut, or scrape - especially if you engage in a lot of physical exercises.

Well, if you notice it’s taking way longer for your wounds to heal than it used to, it might be because you are zinc deficient.

zinc and testosterone

Why? Mostly because zinc has an influence on how well the integrity of the skin and mucosal membranes are maintained. So, low zinc levels could impact the rate at which wounds are healed.

Also, it’s seems that even people with chronic leg ulcers were found to have low serum zinc levels, so proper zinc intake can be important if you’re recovering from more serious wounds too.

3. Your Vision Isn’t Doing So Well

Of course, vision loss isn’t completely linked to having a zinc deficiency. That could happen for a number of reasons. However, I think we shouldn’t overlook just how important zinc can be for your eyesight, though.

For one, your eyes already contain high levels of zinc. The mineral is found in your macula, which is a part of your retina. It’s responsible for transporting vitamin A from your liver to your retina to create protective pigments (melanin).

Safe to say, zinc has a huge influence on how healthy your eyes are.

Also, according to the WebMD link I left above, it seems that zinc deficiency can also make it harder for you to see at night, and zinc supplementation has been found to slow the progression of age-related AMD (macular degeneration, an issue that can cause blurred vision or no vision in the middle of your visual field).

4. Your Taste Buds Are Under-Performing

If you’re like me, and you care about what you eat, a perfect sense of taste is paramount to a healthy, nutritious diet. And it seems that zinc deficiency can get in the way of that.

Not a lot of people know this, but zinc is actually required for a proper sense of smell and taste. In fact, there’s even a link between zinc deficiency and taste disorders. Why’s that? Because zinc is pretty important for your taste buds’ health.

The mineral is necessary to make alkaline phosphatase (the most commonly found enzyme in your taste buds membrane) and salivary protein, which is needed for the proper development and maintenance of your taste buds.

5. Your Hearing Is Taking a Hit

It seems that zinc is important for all your senses. Apparently, low zinc levels could be linked to issues like tinnitus (noise or ringing in your ears). Áccording to a study done on 100 people that had tinnitus, 12 of them had low zinc levels.

Sure, 12 out of 100 might not seem like much, but it does show that there is a chance that zinc deficiency could cause tinnitus, or at the very least make it worse.

After all, those 12 people were found to have significantly more severe hearing loss and ringing in their ears than the other 88 people who weren’t zinc deficient.

Another study shows that zinc supplements could be used to treat hearing loss. Apparently, 66 people with hearing loss were treated with zinc supplements and a steroid treatment. Those who received the zinc treatment were actually able to get a higher hearing gain than the others.
zinc for hearing problems

How to Tell If You Have a Zinc Deficiency

One easy way to check if you are dealing with zinc deficiency is to get a bottle of zinc sulfate liquid (something like this), and place a capful in your mouth. Now, here are the potential outcomes, and what each one means:
  • You don’t notice a metallic taste - You have a zinc deficiency.
  • You only notice a delayed metallic taste - You have a slight zinc deficiency.
  • You notice a slight metallic taste - Your zinc levels are decent, but could use improvement.
  • You notice an obvious, strong metallic taste - You probably have optimal zinc levels.

Of course, if you want a more accurate reading, you should check with your doctor, and have them test your blood plasma.

Is There Any Connection Between Zinc Deficiency and Testosterone?

Yes - and a pretty clear one at that. According to research, low zinc levels (both severe and moderately severe) in your body can be associated with hypogonadism, a condition in which the male body doesn’t produce enough testosterone.

Because of that association, zinc deficiency can also be linked to:

  • A lower libido
  • Lower sperm quality
  • Less semen volume

There’s also a study that shows how zinc deficiency can result in a sub-par conversion of cholesterol into testosterone (a process that is vital to optimal T levels).

Granted, the study was done on rats, but keep in mind our reproductive organs and the way they work are pretty similar with theirs (size aside, obviously).

Also, here’s one last thing to consider - zinc is actually a pretty good estrogen-blocker since it inhibits the aromatase enzyme, an enzyme that is responsible for converting testosterone into estrogen. As a result, low zinc levels in your body can cause a spike in estrogen.

What’s the Link Between Zinc and Testosterone?

To put it simply, zinc is an essential mineral for your endocrine system (your testicles are important glands that are part of that system).

It makes sure it’s doing its job, and that there are no micronutrient deficiencies since that is one of the main keys to healthy, natural testosterone production in your body.

So Does Zinc Increase Testosterone?

Yeah, I tend to believe it does, and science backs that up. I already mentioned that zinc is a powerful estrogen blocker, so let’s consider another thing: Zinc could increase testosterone levels by inhibiting serum SHBG (Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin) levels, meaning there will be more testosterone available for your body’s androgen receptors (the ones that are responsible for meditating testosterone and dihydrotestosterone activity).

Why do I believe that? Because most studies on zinc’s influence on testosterone (I’ll link some of them below) see free testosterone levels being increased in men.

If you didn’t know, higher free testosterone levels means the primary male sex hormone (testosterone) isn’t inhibited by SHGB.

In case my speculation isn’t enough, though, no problem - I managed to find a study which shows that zinc can lower SHBG levels.

Here’s more research that shows how zinc increases testosterone levels:

  • A study done on 108 fertile men and 103 subfertile men had them take a combination of zinc and folic acid. The results showed that the subfertile men saw an increase of around 74% in their sperm count (don’t forget - low sperm count is a sign of low testosterone). Surprisingly, the fertile men saw a similar increase too.
  • Another study done on 37 infertile men had them take an undisclosed amount of zinc for 6 months. According to the results, the men who had low T levels noticed significant improvements.
  • This study shows how a mixed intake of zinc with magnesium (30mg per day) helps increase free testosterone levels, and this study showcases how supplementing with zinc sulfate over a period of 6 weeks results in an approximately 84% increase in testosterone levels.
  • And this study show how zinc can actually improve the sexual competence of rats. Like I already said, this kind of info is relevant to us since our reproductive systems are similar to theirs.

Oh, and here’s one last thing you’ll definitely like - zinc can boost T levels in men who are professional athletes or just average guys, meaning this is the kind of mineral any man can benefit from.

man performing exercises

What’s the Best Form of Zinc for Testosterone?

Zinc isn’t always just “zinc” - there are actually some variations of the mineral, and there are many of them. Well, I’m aiming to briefly cover the most common types of zinc to see which one(s) you should focus on:

1. Zinc Picolinate

It’s believed that zinc picolinate is more easily absorbed by our bodies (at least compared to zinc citrate and gluconate) because - in this case - zinc is attached to a picolinic acid molecule, which is normally synthesized in your liver.

Also, one of this molecule’s main purposes is to promote the absorption of minerals in our bodies.

And while zinc picolinate doesn’t necessarily have an impact on muscle development or anything like that, it can help control acne (which is a sign of low T, so there might be a chance - albeit not a clear one - that zinc picolinate increases testosterone) and work as an immune booster.

2. Zinc Orotate

Zinc orotate has a pretty easy time passing through your cells’ membranes (meaning they have an easier time increasing zinc concentrations) since orotates are mineral salts that are neutrally charged.

There’s a chance zinc orotate boosts testosterone (at least to a certain degree) since it’s allegedly used to treat male hypogonadism.

3. Zinc Citrate

There might be a link between zinc citrate and testosterone because zinc citrate has pretty strong antioxidant properties. And studies have shown that a lack of antioxidant effects in your body can speed up the testosterone reduction that’s caused by age.

4. Zinc Oxide

Zinc oxide is a combination of heated zinc and oxygen molecules. While it does have some benefits for skin protection, I haven’t really been able to find much about zinc oxide effects on testosterone.

However, I did come across this study that claims zinc oxide nanoparticles can act as a testicular toxicant.

Basically, the study was done on rats, and the groups exposed to zinc oxide nanoparticles had experienced a slight decrease in testicles compared to the control group.

While the study does say it is a bit inconclusive, and that more research is needed on the subject, this might be worth keeping in mind.

5. Zinc Monomethionine

I believe zinc monomethionine raises testosterone because it’s basically a combination of zinc and methionine, an amino acid that’s essential in humans since it has a huge impact on our metabolism.

It’s actually a key ingredient in creatine, which can improve muscle development at the expense of fat. Besides that, methionine also exhibits antioxidant activity - like zinc citrate.

Some “sponsored” studies (so, not objective) also claim that zinc monomethionine is easily absorbed by your body thanks to methionine, which is the body’s most readily absorbed amino acid.

6. Zinc Aspartate

This is a combination of zinc that is bound to aspartic acid. The great thing about that is that aspartic acid has been found to boost testosterone up to 42%, and help with fertility problems by improving sperm quality.

So there’s a clear correlation between zinc aspartate and testosterone.

7. Zinc Gluconate

While I didn’t find much regarding zinc gluconate and testosterone, I did manage to learn that it’s apparently the best-absorbed kind of zinc.

Also, this type of zinc might work better for you if you happen to have digestive issues (like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for example).

So, Which One Is Better?

To be honest, I don’t really think you need to worry about this aspect that much. I mostly added it to the article to give you some more insight about zinc, but - in terms of testosterone boosts and physical health - there’s just not enough research to conclude which variation of zinc is the best T booster (though, that’s my personal opinion).

Overall, I’d say it’s safer if you avoid zinc oxide, and just stick to any of the other 5 zinc types on the list (or just plain zinc). Any of them should be fine, but if you really want a recommendation, try focusing more on zinc aspartate, zinc monomethionine, or zinc orotate.
street workout

How Much Zinc Should I Take to Increase Testosterone?

The ideal amount you should take is 15mg. But I think that with a 50mg zinc dosage, testosterone levels will be more optimal - especially if you hit the gym often.

Thing is, you eliminate zinc when you sweat, so a dose bigger than 15mg is a good idea.

Now you might be thinking - “will high levels of zinc increase testosterone too, or will they do more harm?”

Well, you could take a dose of 80mg or a bit higher if you want to be extra cautious about your zinc levels, but in that case I’d advice taking a copper supplement as well since too much zinc can potentially interfere with your body’s absorption of copper.

Now, you could even take 100mg of zinc per day if you want since research confirms it’s safe to do so.

However, researchers claim it’s only safe to do this in the short term (somewhere between 2 to 4 months). You should take a copper supplement in this case too.

Here’s something you need to keep in mind, though - zinc is a great way to boost T levels if zinc levels in your body are depleted or near depletion.

If your zinc levels are all good, supplementing with the mineral will probably not do much for your testosterone levels.

If you have your blood plasma checked, you should know exactly what zinc levels you have.

What’s the Best Time to Take Zinc for Testosterone?

There’s not really a “perfect” time of the day when you should take zinc, though I recommend doing it before or after you eat at least, or after a gym/training session (since you sweat out zinc like I previously said).

Ideally, you should also start taking zinc for testosterone when you hit 30 since - unfortunately - that’s when your body’s testosterone production starts going down as you age. To be on the safe side, I’d even recommend taking zinc in your early 20s.

What Are the Best Food Sources of Zinc to Increase Testosterone?

One way to improve your intake of zinc is obviously to tweak your diet. You’ll be happy to know there are plenty of decent food items that contain zinc which you can choose from.

I’ll go ahead and outline them in a list, and mention a few things about them and how much zinc they have.

Also, I decided it’d be best to list the foods from the ones that are most rich in zinc to the ones with the lowest amount of zinc to make scanning them easier for you:

1. Oysters and Mollusks (90.8mg zinc/100g)

Oysters and mollusks are the food items with the highest zinc dosage out there. Though, I can’t say that everyone out there can afford to eat 100g of oysters/mollusks each day - I know I can’t. Then again, even if I could I can’t really say I’d be looking forward to it.

Still, if you’ve got the money and you love how oysters/mollusks taste, adding them to your daily diet will give your body all the zinc it could want.

Personally, I’d recommend aiming for a lower amount (around 5 oysters/mollusks instead of a 100g portion), so that you’re getting around 50-60g of zinc instead of 90g.
zinc in oysters

2. Crab Meat (7.6mg zinc/100g)

Quite the drop from the amount of zinc you get from oysters and mollusks, but then again crab meat does taste better, and it’s a bit more affordable.

Still, I should mention that if you really want to get the most zinc out of crab meat, you should look for Alaskan crab.

3. Ground Beef (6.6mg zinc/100g)

I’m referring to ground beef with meat that’s 90% lean and 10% fat - the kind you can easily enjoy in a burger or as a steak.

You could also get ground beef with meat that’s 70% lean and 30% fat, though the zinc dosage would go down to around 3.6mg, or opt for grass-fed beef that has around 4.5mg of zinc per 100g.

Personally, I really like ground beef since it keeps you going for a long time, and there are many ways to prepare it. It’s not particularly cheap depending on where you buy it from, though.

4. Cashew Nuts (5.8mg zinc/100g)

Cashew nuts can be a very good source of zinc, but there’s just one problem - since they’re seeds, they’re pretty packed with fats. 100g of cashew nuts would go up to 500-550 calories.

If you don’t hit the gym often or regularly engage in physical activities, that might not work in your favor.

5. Lamb Meat (4.7mg zinc/100g)

A bit more easy on your wallet and your stomach, lamb meat can be a good alternative to ground beef. There are plenty of ways to cook it, it’s easy to do that, and the taste isn’t bad at all.

6. Oats (4mg zinc/100g)

Oats are a great source of zinc, and they make for a delicious, filling dinner (think oatmeal and porridge). You can also try other grains like rice, but the zinc doses are lower (rice only has 0.8mg per 100g).

7. Dark Chocolate, 70-85% (3.3mg zinc/100g)

If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, you can try getting some zinc from dark chocolate. Of course, if you just can’t stand the taste, it’s better to just skip it.

8. Cheese, Cheddar (3.1mg zinc/100g)

The great thing about cheddar is that it pretty much goes with anything, it’s not expensive, and it’s really tasty. If you prefer some other type of cheese, you can just look it up on this website to check its zinc dosage per 100g.

I’d add it myself, but there are way too many types of cheese to go through, so I decided to stick with the one I personally consider to be the most efficient.

9. Lobster (3mg zinc/100g)

Like crab meat, lobster meat is also pretty delicious and easy to incorporate into your diet, but I do think that the price might be a problem for some people since lobster meat isn’t really cheap, and neither is getting a whole lobster.

If you really like seafood, I’d recommend sticking with crab meat simply because it’s more cost-efficient and offers a larger zinc dosage.

zinc in lobsters

10. Chickpeas (1.5mg zinc/100g)

Vegetables can be a good source of zinc, though you should keep in mind that they have plant phytates in them which makes it harder for your body to absorb zinc, ironically. That’s probably why people who stick to vegetarian diets tend to have lower zinc levels.

Still, if you are a vegetarian, I’d say chickpeas are a good bet - especially if you take some zinc supplements alongside them (which I’ll get to in a bit). Even if you aren’t, you can just use them as a side dish.

You can also try substituting chickpeas with other vegetables for more variety like spinach or peas, for example, though please keep in mind they have lower zinc levels (spinach - 0.8mg/100g; peas - 1.2mg/100g).

11. Chicken Meat (1mg zinc/100g)

It doesn’t really matter if you’re cooking the meat with or without skin - you’ll still get the same zinc dosage.

Also, I’m referring to chicken meat that’s roasted, though stewed, fried, or even rotisserie chicken meat have similar values.

While chicken meat definitely isn’t too rich in zinc, it’s still cheap, tasty, and very easy to include in your daily meal(s). You could actually make a dish of chicken meat with chickpeas, rice, or eggs to get more zinc.

12. Eggs (1mg zinc/100g)

Eggs have the same zinc dosage whether they’re cooked, scrambled, or whole. Still, that goes to show you can add them in various dishes to increase your zinc intake.

Will Zinc Supplements Increase Testosterone?

While the food items I listed above can be a great source of zinc, it’s understandable if some of you just don’t have the money or time to go grocery shopping very often - not to mention having to prepare a lot of meals too, and the large amount of food you’d need to consume daily to get close to the 50-60mg (or more) zinc intake.

So, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting a “shortcut.”

In that case, zinc supplements are a good option. Though, while zinc supplements boost testosterone levels, I should mention one thing: It’s better to take supplements that have a multi-nutrient formula than just a zinc-based one.

While zinc does increase testosterone, the T level boosting effects can be much better if the mineral is paired with other testosterone-boosting nutrients.

tired man in a gym

The Best 5 Zinc Supplements for Testosterone Boosts (In My Opinion)

Feel free to click the links in any heading to check out a more in-depth review of each testosterone supplement.

1. Testogen (72mg Zinc)

If you’re looking for a really high dose of zinc, you can’t really go wrong with Testogen. It’s got one of the highest zinc doses I’ve seen up until now in a testosterone supplement, and it compliments that with magnesium (which can boost free testosterone in your body by up to 24%) and Fenugreek extract (which works really well paired with zinc and magnesium), as well as other nice T-boosting ingredients.

Besides that, this supplement can offer you a decent libido and strength boost. And while the high price can be a bit off-putting, it is worth noting the supplement comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

2. Prime Male (30mg Zinc Citrate)

Prime Male has a “tamer” dosage compared to Testogen, but it still gets the job done, and it contains aromatase-blocking Luteolin and Vitamin K2 (which is a nice testosterone booster).

Plus, this supplement is made by Propura, an established market leader that makes natural supplements.

Just keep in mind that Prime Male is more aimed at men who are over 30 years old. That’s not to say you might not get the same results if you’re under 30, but that’s more of a speculation than a guarantee.

3. TestoTEK (25mg Zinc Oxide)

TestoTEK has some positive reviews, and a formula comprised only of certified natural ingredients.

Besides zinc, it also contains Vitamin D3 (which can help boost muscle strength), Vitamin B5 (which is best known as the “testosterone vitamin”), and Mucuna Pruriens (a herb that can really boost T levels in both fertile and infertile men).

I don’t particularly like the fact that it uses zinc oxide after what I’ve learnt about it (jump to #4 at “What’s the Best Form of Zinc for Testosterone?” to see what I mean), but that’s just me. If that info doesn’t worry you, though, you can try it out.

4. Testo-Max (10mg Zinc Citrate Dihydrate)

A supplement with a very high customer satisfaction rate, Testo-Max is great at helping you increase muscle mass and strength, courtesy of its T-boosting ingredients like magnesium, boron, Vitamin K1, and VItamin D3.

On the subject of zinc citrate dihydrate, I can’t say I’ve found any relevant research that show that zinc citrate dihydrate is better than zinc citrate.

5. Testofuel (10mg Zinc Monomethionine and Aspartate)

Despite its low zinc dosage, Testofuel is known as the supplement with one of the best testosterone-boosting formulas, sporting tons of positive reviews from athletes and gym rats - the very people this supplement is aimed at.

Testofuel makes up for its low zinc dosage with other great T-boosters like D-Aspartic Acid, Vitamin K2, oyster extract (which actually ads to the zinc levels), and a hefty dose of magnesium.

Oh, and the fact that it contains a mix of zinc monomethionine and zinc aspartate it’s a very nice touch too.

On ZMA (Zinc Magnesium Aspartate)

ZMA is a pretty simple supplement that contains:

  • Zinc (monomethionine and aspartate)
  • Magnesium (aspartate)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride)

You could take this supplement to boost your zinc intake and T levels too, though I’d personally recommend picking a testosterone supplement with a more varied, balanced formula simply because it’ll benefit your T levels and health more.

In Conclusion

Zinc definitely has a positive effect on your testosterone levels (not to mention it helps you combat the nasty health issues caused by zinc deficiency) - provided you are taking the correct amount and don’t already have optimal zinc levels in your body.
athlete performing pushups

There are many types of zinc out there, but most of them seem to have the same T-boosting qualities.

I’d maybe only be a bit careful with zinc oxide because of that study that showed its nanoparticles can act as a testicular toxicant, though do keep in mind that the research was inconclusive in the end (just something worth considering).

While you can get zinc from plenty of foods, I think it’d be better to rely on testosterone supplements (not just zinc supplements) simply because you get a more nutritional formula this way - which can be extremely useful if you engage in physical exercise regularly.

Plus, testosterone supplements work well even if you already have optimum zinc levels.

In case you have any other questions about zinc and testosterone, feel free to shoot me a message.

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