Zinc is 1 of the 24 essential minerals needed for human health. It is essential because the human body can’t synthesize its own, so the only way to ensure you have enough, is through diet or supplementation. And because of the numerous and important roles of zinc, you'll want to make sure you do have enough zinc.
The Roles and Functions of Zinc
Zinc has numerous physiological roles and functions in cellular metabolism; it is essential for over 100 enzymatic activities, it supports healthy growth, assists with DNA synthesis, normalizes testosterone and estrogen levels, supports reproductive health, as well as plays crucial roles in immune function.
Fun Fact: Zinc has anti-aromatase activity, thus reducing the conversion from testosterone to estrogen.
Zinc, Testosterone & Estrogen
Zinc can improve testosterone levels in a few ways - it increases free testosterone levels while also stopping the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
According to studies, elite athletes who supplemented with 3mg of zinc daily for a month had significantly higher levels of thyroid and testosterone levels.
In another study, men who were subjected to “fatiguing bicycle exercise” for 4-weeks and supplemented with 3mg of zinc were found able to maintain and and increase their free test levels, as well as thyroid hormones - compared to placebo groups, who's levels did not increase.
One study on people with chronic renal failure (a condition linked to significantly depleted zinc levels) mega-dosed with 250mg/day of zinc were found to have significantly increased serum zinc, testosterone, and LH levels. 1
Zinc & Immunity
One of the more important abilities of zinc, is its effect on immune cells. Zinc is an antioxidant and possesses anti-inflammatory actions. There are a variety of studies that discuss the therapeutic roles of zinc in immune deficiency disorders, diarrhea, acrodermatitis enteropathica, macular degeneration, and the treatment of cold and flu viruses.
According to the science, zinc enhances the up-regulation of important immune cells, which activate immune cell pathways that decreases nuclear kappa factor B (NF-κB) activation, leading to decreased gene expression and generation of pro-flammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), IL-1β, and IL-8, which have strong correlations with cancer, autoimmunity, inflammatory conditions and other immune dysfunctions. Not to mention, zinc supplementation is known to decrease oxidative stress markers and the generation of inflammatory cytokines. 2
How Much Zinc is Enough?
You need at least 15 mg’s of daily zinc to even maintain the most crucial endocrine system functions. Zinc gluconate is the most effective for increasing testosterone; however, you can get adequate zinc through the consumption of oysters, red meat, liver, and Black Ant.
You will also want to ensure you are getting enough magnesium and copper to balance the zinc in your body. If you are consuming shellfish and coffee, in addition to the previously mentioned sources, you should be good!
Fun Fact: Black Ant is one of the most potent sources of bioavailable zinc on the planet, outweighing oysters, beef, liver, and pumpkin seeds!