Zinc is an important trace mineral in the body that plays a role in many cellular processes, wound healing, growth, and development.
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Some studies have shown that zinc supplementation can improve semen quality in subfertile men and increase testosterone levels in zinc-deficient men.
It is recommended that men have at least 11 mg per day of zinc, which can come from food or supplements. Having too much or too little can be dangerous for your health.
Zinc supplements can interact with certain medications. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking zinc if you are already taking antibiotics, penicillamine, or diuretics.
What is zinc?
Zinc is a mineral that is involved in several of the body’s processes. More specifically, zinc is an essential trace mineral, meaning that only small amounts are required but that it is vital to the proper functioning of the human body. Zinc is involved in numerous cellular reactions including cell division and the formation of DNA and proteins. Zinc also plays a role in wound healing, growth, development, taste, and smell.
Where does zinc come from?
Zinc can be found in a wide variety of foods. Oysters and certain other shellfish like crab and lobster are among the foods with the most zinc per serving. Other good sources of zinc include red meat, pork, chicken, yogurt, milk, and eggs. For those who do not eat animal products, zinc can be found in legumes, nuts, and seeds. However, plant-based foods may also contain phytates, which decrease the amount of zinc the body can absorb. Some foods, such as breakfast cereals, are fortified with zinc. This means that zinc is added to the food in a public health effort to help make sure everybody is getting enough each day.
What are the health benefits of zinc?
The health benefits of zinc are far-reaching since the mineral is a necessary part of numerous cellular processes. Purported but unconfirmed or understudied benefits of zinc include treating acne, age-related macular degeneration, anorexia, ADHD, burns, colorectal tumors, the common cold, cramps, depression, halitosis, rash, and sickle cell disease.
Zinc is essential to the immune system, which is the body’s natural defense against infection. White blood cells are a major component of the immune system and circulate through the bloodstream. Whenever foreign organisms (such as bacteria) are present, white blood cells release molecules that regulate inflammation and then work to isolate and kill the organisms. Zinc is necessary for white blood cells to be able to successfully execute each of these functions. This is why maintaining normal levels of zinc is vital to staying healthy; in the setting of a zinc deficiency, these basic immune processes are all negatively impacted (4).
In addition to oral zinc, topical zinc can be beneficial to health. Zinc oxide, when applied to wounds like leg ulcers, has been seen to promote healing by decreasing inflammation, inhibiting bacterial growth, and stimulating the migration of skin cells into the wound (1).
Zinc also has the following health benefits, which is why it was chosen to be an ingredient in the Roman Dailies:
Studies looking specifically at zinc’s effects on testosterone are limited. They include the following:
Semen: In one study of subfertile men in Sudan with reduced sperm count and mobility, supplementation with 110 mg of zinc sulfate (equivalent to 25 mg of elemental zinc) twice per day for three months led to an increase in follicle stimulating hormone (a hormone that stimulates testicular growth and helps maintain sperm cells), an increase in testosterone, and improvement in sperm motility percentages (6).
Sexual function: In one study on male rats, supplementation with zinc improved sexual competence by increasing thrusting and time to ejaculation. Increases in testosterone levels were also noted and the benefits were found to be dose-dependent. There was also a reduction in libido but these results were not statistically significant (2).
Testosterone: One study looked at the link between zinc concentrations and testosterone levels in forty men. When dietary zinc was restricted for twenty weeks in normal men, testosterone levels declined. When 30 mg per day of zinc supplementation was given for six months to elderly men who were deficient, testosterone levels rose (5).
In what forms is zinc available?
You can get omega-3 directly through the diet or by taking supplements. Supplements that contain EPA and DHA include fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, and algae oil (which is a vegetarian option). Depending on the type of supplement and oil you get, there may be different concentrations of triglycerides, phospholipids, and other compounds mixed in with the omega-3 fatty acids (4).
How much zinc is recommended?
Unlike some minerals, the human body does not have an effective way to store zinc, so it must be ingested every day with food. If you do not consume enough zinc, you may become zinc deficient, which can lead to a number of symptoms and health problems. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of zinc is 11 mg per day for men over the age of 13. Women over the age of 18 should have 8 mg per day unless they are pregnant (11 mg per day) or breastfeeding (12 mg per day). The RDA represents the daily amount of a mineral that is considered sufficient for 97–98% of healthy individuals.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for zinc is 40 mg per day for both men and women over the age of 18. Repeated intake of amounts greater than the UL can lead to poor health outcomes (3).
What are the symptoms of having too little zinc?
Worldwide, it is estimated that approximately 17.3% of the population is at risk of not consuming enough zinc (7). In the United States, an overt deficiency is far less common. However, it is still estimated that 20–25% of American adults ages 60 and older do not consume an adequate amount of zinc, even after supplementation is taken into account. Other groups of people who are at risk of developing a zinc inadequacy or deficiency are those with gastrointestinal diseases, people with sickle cell disease, alcoholics, vegetarians, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Because of how zinc is distributed in the body, there is no effective way to test for zinc deficiency. A healthcare provider may decide to test zinc levels in your blood but it is possible for this value to come back within the normal range even in the setting of a deficiency. Instead, those who have risk factors for deficiency who are also experiencing symptoms should consider zinc supplementation.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency can be severe. These include problems with growth and development and decreased effectiveness of the immune system. Other specific symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Sexual dysfunction
- Impaired vision
What are the symptoms of having too much zinc?
Having too much zinc can also cause symptoms and health problems. Regularly ingesting more than the UL for zinc (40 mg per day) or ingesting a single high dose of zinc (for example, a single 4 g dose of zinc gluconate) can induce:
- Abdominal cramping
- Urinary tract infections
Since zinc has an effect on the way copper is absorbed, having too much zinc can lead to low copper and copper supplementation may be necessary. For this reason, Roman’s Testosterone Support supplement also includes copper as an ingredient. Excess zinc may also cause issues with iron function and immune function in the body.
What to look for in a good zinc supplement:
As a supplement, zinc can come in several forms including zinc acetate, zinc citrate, zinc gluconate, zinc picolinate, and zinc sulfate. Currently, no evidence exists to support the use of one formulation over another (3). Different supplements may contain different percentages of zinc, meaning different amounts are released into the bloodstream to become bioactive.
How does Roman offer zinc?
Roman obtains zinc from a non-GMO source in Japan. It is available synthetically as zinc sulfate.
Roman offers zinc in the following supplements:
Zinc is one of six main ingredients in Roman’s Testosterone Support supplement. The supplement consists of four tablets that should be taken with water. Each individual tablet contains 7.5 mg of zinc, for a total daily dose of 30 mg. This value falls between the RDA and the UL for zinc and closely approximates the amount that led to increased testosterone levels and improved semen quality in one study.
Other ingredients in the tablets include maca root powder, KSM-66® organic ashwagandha root extract, magnesium citrate, cupric oxide, cholecalciferol, microcrystalline cellulose, dicalcium phosphate, stearic acid, croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, and pharmaceutical glaze (shellac, povidone).
Does zinc interact with any other drugs or medical conditions?
Zinc interacts with several other medications and may affect how those medications are absorbed or how they affect the body. If you are taking any of the following medications, it is important you talk to your healthcare provider before beginning zinc supplementation (please note that this list may not be exhaustive and other medications may also interact with zinc)
- Quinolone antibiotics: Zinc interacts with these antibiotics in the gastrointestinal system, impairing the absorption of both the antibiotic and the zinc. Taking the antibiotic at least two hours before or at least four to six hours after taking zinc reduces this interaction. Examples of quinolone antibiotics include ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, and moxifloxacin.
- Tetracycline antibiotics: Zinc interacts with these antibiotics in the gastrointestinal system, impairing the absorption of both the antibiotic and the zinc. Taking the antibiotic at least two hours before or at least four to six hours after taking zinc reduces this interaction. Examples of tetracycline antibiotics include doxycycline, minocycline, demeclocycline, and tetracycline.
- Penicillamine: Penicillamine (not to be confused with the antibiotic penicillin) is a medication that is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and Wilson’s disease. Taking zinc may decrease both the absorption of penicillamine as well as its effectiveness in the body. To avoid this interaction, penicillamine and zinc should be taken at least two hours apart from each other.
- Thiazide diuretics: Thiazide diuretics are also sometimes known as “water pills.” Taking thiazide diuretics may cause the body to excrete excess zinc through the urine, which can affect levels of zinc in the body. Being aware of the symptoms of zinc deficiency may help prevent health problems. Examples of thiazide diuretics include chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothiazide.
- Agren MS. Studies on zinc in wound healing. Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 1990;154:1-36.
- Dissanayake D, Wijesinghe P, Ratnasooriya W, Wimalasena S. Effects of zinc supplementation on sexual behavior of male rats. Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences. 2009;2(2):57. doi:10.4103/0974-1208.57223.
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Zinc. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/. Published July 10, 2019. Accessed July 17, 2019.
- Prasad AS. Zinc in Human Health: Effect of Zinc on Immune Cells. Molecular Medicine. 2008;14(5-6):353-357. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.prasad.
- Prasad A. Zinc Status and Serum Testosterone Levels of Healthy Adults. Nutrition. 1996;12(5):vi. doi:10.1016/s0899-9007(96)00064-0.
- Saeed HSM, El-Hadiyah TMH, Osman BI. Using Zinc in Management of Subfertile Male Patients: a Clinical Trial. Al-Kindy College Medical Journal. 2017;13(1):32-38.
- Wessells KR, Brown KH. Estimating the Global Prevalence of Zinc Deficiency: Results Based on Zinc Availability in National Food Supplies and the Prevalence of Stunting. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(11). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050568.