I was with some friends the other day who were both suffering from a nasty cold, so I suggested that they take Vitamin C and Zinc. ‘Why zinc?’ they asked. I replied that it was a good immune booster and healer, and I added that it was a very important mineral, especially for men.
So why is that?
Well, second to bone, the prostate has more zinc in it than any other tissue in the body but you don’t produce zinc, so you do need to get it from your diet or supplements. Zinc promotes immune function; supports healthy cell growth, healing and development. It also plays a role in maintaining prostate health, sexual health and testosterone levels.
Here are 5 good reasons, from Dr Geo Espinosa for men requiring zinc:
1. Prostate health
Zinc is found in large concentrations in the prostate gland and promotes prostate health. Low zinc levels make you more susceptible to infections and inflammation of the prostate.
Studies have shown a reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer in men who took more than 15 mg of zinc daily as a supplement, and scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the Agricultural Research Service have reported that prostate cancer tissue has significantly less zinc in it than healthy prostate tissue.
Zinc is also important for men who are concerned about an enlarged prostate. Oregon State University had a study that looked at the anti-proliferative effects of zinc in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) cells and prostate cancer cells. When they treated the cells with zinc for 24 hours and 48 hours, they found that the BPH cells were more sensitive to the anti-proliferative effects of the zinc. This led the authors to conclude that ‘zinc may serve an important role in regulating cell growth and apoptosis (cell death) in prostate cancer and hyperplasia cells.’
2. Sexual health
I expect that you have heard that oysters are an aphrodisiac, well their high zinc content could be the reason.
Zinc influences a man’s fertility, sex drive and long term sexual health. A study on zinc’s effect on testosterone levels in men aged between 20 and 80 showed that restricting dietary zinc lowered testosterone levels, while taking zinc supplements increased testosterone production.
As men age, testosterone levels begin to decline naturally. When testosterone levels get too low, men may experience low libido and erectile dysfunction, but taking Zinc can help balance those hormone levels.
3. Slowing down the balding process
Zinc encourages hair growth by improving the function of the immune system and if you are low in zinc it can result in sudden hair loss and a dry, flakey scalp. Balding is a hereditary problem as well but getting enough zinc can slow the process down.
4. Zinc for the thyroid
Zinc is one of the main minerals that will help the body to maintain proper thyroid function by producing hormones in the brain called thyroid-releasing hormones. These hormones signal the pituitary gland to start making thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) Men who are low in zinc may fail to produce enough of these hormones and that can also affect testosterone levels. Alcohol can make the situation even worse and so those men with a low thyroid, who consume alcohol should definitely be taking a zinc supplement.
5. Zinc as an antioxidant
Zinc is an important mineral in cell repair. We store it in our muscles and it is involved in building cells, providing proper cell structure and repairing damaged cells that have broken down. Zinc helps muscles grow back bigger and stronger.
In addition to cell repair, zinc helps to improve immune function by fighting illnesses like the common cold and other infections. It is also a good healer for skin wounds.
Where do you find zinc?
Foods that are high in zinc include oysters, other seafood, beef, poultry, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. However for men trying to avoid getting prostate cancer, they should cut red meat and dairy products from their diet, and take a supplement containing zinc which is especially for men’s health. Zinc citrate is more bioavailable than some of the other types and I would recommend taking 15-25 mg.a day.