Zinc and testosterone: Is zinc the ultimate testosterone booster?

Today we are going to talk about more supplements that claim to increase testosterone. In this case we are going to take a look at zinc.

The thing is that zinc can be a powerful ally to naturally increase our testosterone. In fact, zinc is a natural substance and a “manly” component, so we must get plenty of it in our diet.

That means: meat, oysters, seafood, peanuts and dark chocolate (yes, chocolate is good, but take it as dark and pure as you can, not diluted with sugar, milk and trans-fats…). If you read the testosterone book you will see that if you follow the diet laid there, you will have plenty of zinc.

Why zinc increases testosterone

Zinc inhibits aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogens, so a rich zinc diet will keep estrogens in check, while a zinc deficient diet can plummet your testosterone levels⁠ (1).

So zinc is mainly anti-estrogenic, it increases testosterone and it seems to be good for our sperm too, mainly in infertile men or men with low testosterone (2). It does not seem to be as effective when we are talking about healthy males with high testosterone levels, because they were mainly unaffected, but even then, zinc increased their DHT levels. As we saw recently, increasing DHT can be very useful for our purposes, due to the fact that DHT is a very interesting and powerful androgen.

Besides the DHT increasing effect, there are other reasons why zinc is interesting:

  • If we are reading this, it’s quite possible that your testosterone levels are not optimal, so zinc can be beneficial in all fronts, not only DHT optimization.
  • Today, western diets tend to be zinc-deficient.
  • Zinc is not stored, you can lose too much zinc under some conditions, for example if you sweat a lot. I sweat a lot, indeed, and yes, it’s nothing to be proud, but it is what it is. If you are like me, you are losing more zinc than the rest of the population.
  • You can also be zinc depleted if you train vigorously. In those cases zinc supplementation can be beneficial (3). I quote the referenced study: “The results indicate that exercise decreases thyroid hormones and testosterone in sedentary men; however, zinc supplementation prevents this decrease. Administration of a physiologic dose of zinc can be beneficial to performance”.

If you want to increase your testosterone, you will have to exercise, there is no other way, and if you train as I said in the testosterone book, zinc will be your ally, in the same way that BCAA’s are your allies too. They protect your beloved testosterone.

Zinc dosage

You can (and maybe you should) supplement zinc, because many diets can be zinc deficient. Fortunately zinc is cheap, but, and it’s a very big but, don’t overdose. As always, balance is key, so don’t eat zinc pills as candy, always follow medical guidance when taking some supplement.

The Tolerable Upper Limit (TUL) for men is 40 mg of elemental zinc per day. So don’t go above that for an extended period of time.

Some claim that a short megadosing of zinc can be beneficial. According to Examine.com superloading zinc by taking up to 100mg zinc a day is confirmed to be safe in the short term (2-4 months).

In fact, in this interesting study with turkish wrestlers (4) they megadosed the subjects during four weeks (3 mg/kg/day). They found that zinc, like in the previous studies, protected testosterone depletion during strenuous exercise, but not only that, zinc increased free testosterone by a whooping 40% also. Free testosterone, our most beloved kind of testosterone.

On the other hand According to Chinese researchers, a daily dose of 50 mg zinc leads to higher cholesterol levels in just two weeks. (5) Also, Willett and Giovannucci discovered that zinc supplements at doses higher than 100 mg per day increased the risk of prostate cancer by a factor of 2.2 (6). Too much Zinc can cause copper depletion too, if you take a lot, so you can buy zinc with copper (some zinc formulations have copper in them).

The thing is, maybe you can try megadosing with zinc for a very short period of time, not going as far as the turkish wrestlers (that was an awful quantity of zinc) but you don’t want to take that much zinc for so long, and you will be ok with 30-40 mg of zinc per day on the long run, for maintenance purposes.

My personal experience with zinc

It works, period. And you will feel the effects, trust me, especially if you have low levels of testosterone.

I tried megadosing for very short periods of time, and I take 30 mg of zinc daily. I train and I sweat a lot, and zinc really, really helped me. If you are like me, zinc is especially useful.

Many supplements and almost every other testosterone booster that they sell you won’t work, but zinc is one of those rare exceptions. Take it, but don’t go overboard for extended periods of time.

Studies referenced

(1) Effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology in young men

CD Hunt, PE Johnson, J Herbel and LK Mullen

United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, ND 58202.

(2) Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and sperm count.

Netter A, Hartoma R, Nahoul K.

(3) Effect of fatiguing bicycle exercise on thyroid hormone and testosterone levels in sedentary males supplemented with oral zinc.

Kilic M1.

(4) The effect of exhaustion exercise on thyroid hormones and testosterone levels of elite athletes receiving oral zinc.

Kilic M1, Baltaci AK, Gunay M, Gökbel H, Okudan N, Cicioglu I.

(5) Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2004 Nov;33(6):727-31.

(6) J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Jul 2;95(13):1004-7.