Zinc and Hormones — Testosterone, Estrogen, and the Critical Role of Zinc
Let’s talk about zinc and hormones.
Your body is a sophisticated machine, and, for that machine to run properly, it not only needs to have balanced hormones, but it also needs to have proper levels of critical vitamins and minerals.
Zinc is one of those critical minerals — it’s actually called an “essential trace mineral” because a) it’s “essential” to the proper functioning of your body, and b) you only need it in small “trace” amounts.
Now, most of the time, you’re able to get zinc from your diet, but if you’re not getting the proper amount of zinc in your diet (if, for instance, you are vegetarian or vegan), this can often be fixed by taking a simple multivitamin once a day.
And you definitely want to avoid being zinc deficient. If you’re deficient in zinc, not only can this be a problem for many of the different functions of your body, but you can also run into hormone issues — we know this because zinc balances hormones in people who are severely deficient. Your testosterone levels are likely to suffer if you suffer from a zinc deficiency, but other hormones, like estrogen, will be affected as well.
But this isn’t the only area where zinc deficiency becomes a problem — zinc is tied to immune function, memory and learning, wound healing (zinc and collagen production are closely related), healthy pregnancy, fertility — the list goes on and on. Zinc is critical to healthy function, not just healthy hormone levels.
However, though zinc is something you should certainly ensure is in your diet in sufficient quantities, it’s unlikely that you’re deficient of zinc, especially if you live in the United States. The cause of most zinc deficiency in the developed world is the elimination of meat and shellfish from your diet.
It’s sometimes the case that vegans or vegetarians develop a zinc deficiency, followed shortly by hormone issues — make no mistake, zinc and hormones, especially testosterone, are closely related, and a diet that does not include a healthy level of zinc can lead to hormone deficiencies.
Let’s talk a little bit more about your body, zinc, and the hormones you’re likely most concerned with (testosterone and estrogen).
Zinc and Hormones — Zinc Affects Your Testosterone Levels, but Zinc and Estrogen Levels Are Also Related
When it comes to zinc and hormones, most of the literature focuses on how zinc affects your testosterone levels. For instance, we know that, if you’re zinc deficient, adding zinc to your diet can significantly increase serum testosterone levels.
In this study on zinc and hormones, it was found that the addition of zinc to the diet of zinc-deficient elderly men, who were otherwise normal, resulted in a statistically significant increase in serum testosterone levels over the course of six months.
In another study of zinc and hormones, it was found that, when rats were fed a zinc-deficient diet, not only did their testosterone levels drop, but the formation of estradiol (estrogen) from testosterone was increased.
In yet another study of the relationship between zinc and hormones, it was found that adding zinc to the diet of men affected by sickle cell anemia could increase testosterone levels.
While the effects of zinc deficiency on hormone levels are serious, they’re also reversible — low testosterone and high estrogen can have a seriously detrimental effect on a man, but thankfully, if zinc deficiency is the cause, it is easily fixed.
Unfortunately, most men who come to our clinics aren’t suffering from zinc deficiency, which means that zinc supplementation isn’t the answer to their low testosterone problems.
Ensure You Have Enough Zinc in Your Diet, but Don’t Rely on It to Reverse Low Testosterone (Hypogonadism)
What I want you to take away from this article is the following idea — it’s important to have a good level of zinc in your diet, but, for most men in the United States, zinc deficiency is likely not the cause of low testosterone.
However, if you don’t eat meat or shellfish, and especially, if you’re on a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, it’s very possible that you’re zinc deficient and that zinc supplementation could help restore normal hormone levels.
That being said, this is not the norm — for most men in the U.S., zinc deficiency is not a concern, and further, over-supplementing zinc is not going to increase your testosterone levels or bring them back to normal.
It’s more likely that there is something else causing your low testosterone.
To learn more about the different causes of low testosterone in men and women, click the button below.