Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.
Zinc is considered an essential nutrient, as such because your body cannot provide its own source, you need to constantly consume the mineral from food sources or a supplement.
In this article we shall discuss the following:
- What can affect the quality of sperm?
- What is zinc?
- What are soe of the benefits of zinc for sperm?
- How can I get more zinc?
- How long does zinc take to work?
- Do all studies say that zinc can help?
Infertility is an issue that affects more couples than you might think.
Recent statistics have found that one in six couples have issues with falling pregnant and approximately a third of these are due to the male partner.
Research has shown that the quality of sperm can be attributed to levels of zinc in the body and if you have a zinc deficiency or low levels of zinc, you are more likely to experience lower sperm quality and levels of testosterone.
If you are hoping to get pregnant, increasing your zinc intake is one way that can help.
What can affect the quality of sperm?
The quality of sperm is attributed to the testicular environment it is surrounded by. The better the environment, the better the quality of sperm.
There are many factors that can influence this including nutrients, health, heat and toxins.
What is Zinc?
Zinc is essential for maintaining good health, yet it is the second most abundant trace element in humans that can't be produced by the body.
This is why it is important to try and get it from elsewhere.
Zinc is essential for many functions within the body and as well as aiding with fertility, can also help the immune system to fight off infections and make proteins and DNA in your cells.
What are some of the benefits of zinc for sperm count?
Zinc regulates many physiological and biochemical functions within the body that helps your prostate and testosterone to remain at a healthy level.
It is essential for maintaining the lining of the reproductive organs and has a host of benefits for increasing your sperm count.
There have been many studies conducted exploring the connection between male fertility and levels of zinc in the body.
These studies have concluded that the more zinc in the body, the higher levels of sperm motility, the higher the percentage of normal sperm morphology and the higher the volume of sperm count.
Zinc is also an anti-inflammatory and has been found to aid in the sperm's oxidative metabolism, increasing its effects.
Other studies have found that the highest levels of concentration in zinc is usually found in human seminal plasma when compared to other tissues in the body.
A 2016 study into the relationship between seminal plasma zinc and male infertility found that infertile males had a significantly lower level of zinc concentration than those that were fertile.
How can I introduce more zinc into my diet?
The recommended daily amount of zinc for adult men is 11 mg and 8mg for women as stipulated by the National Institues of Health.
If you are looking to conceive it can be a good idea to introduce a little more than this into your diet.
Furthermore, these recommendations are based on the average male adult, if you are a very active person, or live in a hot climate whereby you can sweat a lot you may be at risk of a zinc deficiency.
There are many ways that you can introduce zinc into your diet.
There are a host of foods out there that contain zinc and it is important to eat these in order to boost the levels in your body.
The best source of zinc out there is found in oysters - thought this isn't likely to be something you will eat regularly! You can also find it in a lot of other seafood that is easier to come by, including crab, lobster skate, anchovies, herring, prawns, shrimps and more.
You can also find high levels of zinc in red meat such as steak, poultry such as chicken and turkey, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals.
Other food that contains zinc but at lower levels include dairy products, whole grains, beans and nuts, however, you will need to eat more in order to have the recommended daily amount.
If you find that it is a challenge to get the correct amount of zinc in a day through your food, it can be a good idea to look into supplements that you can take instead.
Supplements containing zinc can be taken daily and will help to assist you with getting the right levels into your body aiding with fertility levels and the amount of zinc in your sperm count.
How long will it take for the impact of zinc to take effect?
Males consistently produce sperm in their body, however, the time it takes for them to develop fully is approximately 74 days.
This is why if you are looking to boost your chances of conceiving, you should target your changes to your sperm health at least three months before trying.
If you are already trying, don't get too disheartened if you don't see an improvement in your zinc levels right away, it is best to wait three months as this is when the impact will begin to come into place.
Do all studies say that zinc can help?
While many studies support the use of zinc (among other nutrients) to improve male fertility, there has been another study that states it doesn’t have as much of a profound impact on male fertility as others.
A study conducted by Eunice Kennedy Shriver for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, (NICHD), part of the National Institutes of Health stipulated that births did not differ much between a group who received a supplement of zinc and those that didn't.
“Our study is one of the first randomized, placebo-controlled trials to assess whether folic acid and zinc supplements help to improve male fertility,” said Enrique Schisterman, PhD, of the NICHD Division of Intramural Population Health Research, who conducted the trial, along with colleagues.
While the majority of research on the market states that zinc can help with male fertility, it is down to you as an individual to make your own decisions and choices.
The important thing is to always consult with a health professional should you have any questions and ensure you are keeping to a healthy diet and lifestyle where possible.
It is clear that zinc plays an important role in many aspects of our health, so ensuring that you are comsuming enough zinc to fulfill your bodies needs are paramaount.
Furthermore, there are lots of papers available to review that demostrate the significance of zinc within seminal plasma and how it can positively impact the fertility of men through supplementation.