Men, when it comes to making sure you get enough of the essential vitamins and minerals, do you start at the top (vitamin A) and find you peter out before you reach the bottom of the alphabetical list? Just because zinc is at the end of the A-to-Z menu doesn’t mean it’s any less important than the nutrients that precede it. In fact, zinc is critically important for men, and here’s why.
First, however, let’s take a brief look at why zinc is a key player in health overall. At the top of that list is immune function. Zinc delivers several well-placed punches in the fight to keep you healthy. Along with boosting the production of immune system cells that attack infection-causing organisms, zinc enhances the ability of those cells to keep on fighting. Zinc also increases the body’s supply of infection-fighting T-cells.
Zinc is in demand; in fact, it is necessary for the activity of about 100 enzymes in the body and is required for cell division. The production of proteins and DNA also depend on zinc, and wounds heal better when there’s enough zinc in the body. You can also thank zinc if you have a normal sense of smell and taste.
Zinc For Men
Now let’s explore why zinc is such a critical nutrient for men:
- Supports testosterone levels. Experts have known that a significant zinc deficiency is associated with abnormally low testosterone levels, but what about mild to moderately low zinc? A research team at Wayne State University School of Medicine evaluated 40 men (ages 20 to 80) and their zinc and testosterone levels. The authors induced marginally low zinc in young men and provided zinc supplements to elderly men who were zinc-deficient. They discovered that limiting zinc intake for 20 weeks caused a decline in testosterone levels and that zinc supplements given for six months improved testosterone production. 
- Promotes healthy sperm. Healthy, active sperm is essential for men who want to be fathers, and zinc plays a critical role in not only promoting sperm production but in regulating the motility (ability of sperm to swim) as well. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America reported on the importance of zinc in ensuring healthy sperm, noting that zinc “is an essential trace element for the maintenance of germ cells [immature sperm cells], the progression of spermatogenesis [sperm formation], and the regulation of sperm motility.” 
- Protects the prostate. Guess which nutrient is found in high concentrations in the prostate? Although zinc is present throughout the body, the prostate is second only to bone for high levels of zinc in males. Scientists are still exploring the significance of zinc in the prostate, but thus far they’ve found that men with low dietary zinc tend to be at greater risk for an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH) and prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), and possibly prostate cancer. For example, a 2007 study reported that men who had prostatitis or prostate cancer had lower concentrations of zinc than healthy men.  An Oregon State University study found that zinc could be an important factor in “regulating cell growth and apoptosis [cell death] in hyperplasia cells.”
- Helps prevent hair loss. Zinc deficiency is seen in a significant number of people who suffer with alopecia, which can range from minimal hair thinning to complete baldness. Could taking zinc supplements help? A study of 15 individuals (10 men) with alopecia looked at this question. All the participants were given 50 mg per day of zinc for 12 weeks, and by the end of the study, nine participants had experienced hair growth. Zinc levels had increased more in the subjects who had hair growth than in those who did not respond to treatment. 
The recommended daily allowance of zinc for men is 11 mg (it’s 8 mg for women). Healthful sources of zinc include beans, crab, crimini mushrooms, low-fat yogurt, nuts, oysters (which have extremely high levels), pumpkin seeds, sesame seed and whole grains. When taking a zinc supplement, look for zinc citrate and consult your healthcare provider for the most appropriate dose.
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Zinc
 Zinc is an essential trace element for spermatogenesis.
 Zinc levels in prostatic fluid of patients with prostate pathologies.
 The therapeutic effect and the changed serum zinc level after zinc supplementation in alopecia areata patients who had a low serum zinc level.