Zinc, ZMA and Testosterone research | Best T boosters with Zinc

Scientists have for decades known that a zinc deficiency is associated with decreased testosterone production and other medical conditions.  However, lately zinc has been considered a big disappointment by researchers.  Studies have shown, for example, that it does not generally increase testosterone significantly or protect from colds as originally thought.

But does that mean you should give up on this mineral altogether?  No way!  Some guys have reported near miraculous powers from supplemental zinc.  Could there by something to it?  Below are some reasons that zinc may in some cases dramatically boost testosterone and substantially improve your sex life:

NOTE:  ZMA is a special formulation of zinc and magnesium.  The Magnesium is a nice side benefit of ZMA and will likely help you sleep better and avoid Metabolic Syndrome and heart disease. An alternative way of getting your zinc is through oysters, although I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing that every day.  But we had one poster write in the following:

“On the subject of shellfish, here’s another anomaly: one night recently I ate a large plate of raw oysters for dinner, and later experienced very firm nocturnal erections and very sexual dreams (practically to the point of nocturnal emission). This, when it’s very rare for me to have a nocturnal erection at all, and never a firm one. I never put much stock in oysters’ reputation as an aphrodisiac, but I am now convinced there is something to it.” [13] Casanova himself ate several dozen oysters every day for its supposed aphrodisiacal super powers and oysters do have a lot of zinc. 


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Zinc is an essential trace element and it doesn’t take a lot to help maintain optimal health. In fact, the National Institutes of Health recommends only 11 mg and 8 mg of Zinc respectively for males and females. Moreover, it’s also rare to experience severe Zinc deficiency as most diets already have more than enough Zinc.

On the other hand, mild Zinc deficiency is quite common for the general population and interestingly, it happens mostly because of inadequate Zinc intake. As one study suggests, “25% of the world’s population is at risk of zinc deficiency” – and that’s a conservative estimate. That being said, Zinc is notably good for the immune system and lack of Zinc typically results in immune related symptoms.

However, since Zinc is “a component of more than 300 enzymes and an even greater number of other proteins” (as per a 2010 study), lack of this mineral also inevitably causes emasculating side effects such as low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, muscle weakness, and even low sex drive and infertility. Of course, adequate Zinc has just as much benefits.

NOTE:  Zinc may also boost DHT in some men, which could be good or bad depending on your situation.

So who might be zinc depleted?  One misconception is that, if you happen to be having a lot of sex – that you may be making yourself zinc depleted.  However, one study shows that only about 0.3 to 0.45 mg of Zinc, or 2-3% of your body’s RDA, is lost during ejaculation. [16] I also frequently get emails from heavy porn users who have lost their sexual desire and/or erectile strength.  (I am talking about guys clearly addicted and spending hours per day and ejaculating 3+ times in a 24 hour period.)  There are probably a variety of reasons for their sexual dysfunctions, but low grade zinc depletion does not appear to be one of them.  (There is also now evidence that are “numbing” their dopamine receptors as well.)

Overall, Zinc deficiency is prevalent worldwide, and serum concentrations of even a slight weakening rapidly lower testosterone.

A diet low in zinc stops the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating the production of testosterone in the testes.

A mild deficiency of zinc will reduce the number of binding sites of androgens and testosterone in the blood become activated and then converted to estrogen in the liver, while the number of estrogen receptors increases. It’s very bad news!


Less sperm, testosterone, and testicular weight in Zinc deficiency

Let’s start with animal studies.

Back in 1976 – yeah, it’s old – a research was done to investigate the role of Zinc on gonadal function. Here, they evaluated the luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and testosterone of their “control” rats and their “experimental” zinc-deficient rats after intravenously administrating them with synthetic luteinizing-hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH).

  • So, basically, they checked the hormonal profile of both rat groups after synthetically releasing LH – the hormone that triggers your testicles to produce more testosterone.

According to the results of the study, the zinc-deficient group had lesser testosterone after synthetic LHRH administration. In contrast, the non-zinc deficient group had a better testosterone response.

In a similar yet significantly more modern research (2015), rats were also used to examine the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of zinc deficiency on spermatogenesis. Here, they noted a reduction of testicular volume (tinier testicles) and impaired sperm production along with lower levels of testosterone in zinc deficient rats.

Sure, Zinc deficiency is bad for rats but are these effects the same for human males?

To answer that question, here’s another research. In similar fashion to the two previous studies, this one assessed the effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology. However, this particular experiment was conducted on young human men.

The men who were a part of this research either had 1.4, 2.5, 3.4, 4.4, or 10.4 mg of Zinc per day. To summarize their results, the group who had the least amount of Zinc (1.4 mg Zn/d) had less semen and serum testosterone compared to the men receiving the highest dose of Zinc (10.4 mg Zn/d).

This next research investigated how exhaustion exercise affects thyroid hormones and testosterone levels in elite athletes who are supplemented with oral zinc sulfate for 4 weeks. These athletes (licensed wrestlers) were also quite young with an average age of 18.7 (+/- 2.4) years old. Moreover, all of them took 3 mg/kg/day of Zinc Sulfate in addition to their normal diets.

Thyroid hormones and testosterone were measured as resting and exhaustion before and after zinc supplementation. Specifically when it comes to testosterone, the results of the research shows that:

  • Before Zinc supplementation:
    • Resting total testosterone and free testosterone levels were significantly higher than exhaustion levels
  • After 4-week Zinc supplementation:
    • Resting and exhaustion levels of total and free testosterone were found significantly higher than the levels measured before zinc supplementation

More about Zinc’s effects on Sex Life

Estrogen Zinc actually inhibits the aromatase enzyme, especially in zinc-depleted individuals, and therefore could decrease estrogen. [5]  (It may also inhibit the conversion of testosterone to DHT, which could help your prostate and hair!)  At worst it is another tool in our arsenal to optimize and maintain our estrogen at reasonable levels. And, of course, this may be another reason that zinc is a testosterone booster for some men but not others.

Dopamine. Researchers have found that zinc is one of the most important minerals regulating dopamine. [6] It turns out that zinc is present in your neuron’s synapses and plays several major roles in neurotransmission. Zinc is known for “inhibiting the uptake” of dopamine, which means that dopamine stays around in your systems (brain) for a longer period of time. And, yes, more dopamine generally means better sex . (Dopamine disorders are associated with migraines, Restless Leg Syndrome and other conditions.)

Depression. Zinc is a proven depression fighter. Several studies have shown that zinc levels tend to be lower in certain types of patients with depression and, furthermore, supplemental zinc has even been shown to help in treatment (25 mg along with an SSRI). [6] And, recently, researchers created depression (in animals) by inducing a zinc deficiency.

Of course, there is now a strong link established between Depression and Your Sex Life.

Zinc – Side effects and Cautions

Zinc has some powerful properties that can really help us males. Because of this, it is very easy for to get overly enthusiastic. Zinc is extremely powerful and has a definite clinical range, i.e. you can hurt yourself if you overdo it in the ways listed below. Again, stick to the 1-2 RDA range for zinc.

Before you go popping zinc like breath mints, keep in mind that some studies indicate that too much zinc is just as hard on your brain and neurons as too little.  Most minerals have a rather tight range and zinc appears to be no exception.

CAUTION: Heart Disease.  There was a whole theory of heart disease that centered around the correct balance of copper to zinc. [10] Admittedly, this theory is outdated, but we can still learn something from it:  too much zinc can elevate cholesterol levels and possibly contribute to hyperlipidemia. (You do not want too much copper either:  it is very hard on the brain.  When it comes to essential minerals, moderation and balance are definite keys.)


1) Med and Sci in Sports & Exerc,1999, 31:483

2) European J of Clin Nutr, 2009, 63:65-70

3) Intl J Sports Med,2001,22(7)537-543

4) Am J Med Sci, 1993 Apr, 305(4):199-202, “Treatment of Wilson’s disease with zinc XII: dose regimen requirements”

5) J Nutr, 1996 Apr, 126(4):842-8, “Dietary zinc deficiency alters 5 alpha-reduction and aromatization of testosterone and androgen and estrogen receptors in rat liver”

6) Neuropharmacology, 2009, 56:531 540, “Zinc regulates the dopamine transporter in a membrane potential and chloride dependent manner”


8) Journal of Neuroscience Research, 1 April 2005, 80(1):145-149, “Zinc modulation of serotonin uptake in the adult rat corpus callosum”

9) Physiol Behav, 2008 Oct 20, 95(3):365-9, “Zinc deficiency induces depression-like symptoms in adult rats”

10) Am J Clin Nutr July, 1975, 28(7):764-774, “Coronary heart disease: the zinc/copper hypothesis”

11) Biol Psychiatry. 1982 Apr;17(4):513-32, “Zinc, the brain and behavior”

12) Am J Clin Nutr July 1992 vol. 56 no. 1 148-157, “Effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology in young men”

13) http://peaktestosterone.com/forum/index.php?topic=628.msg5816#msg5816

14) http://peaktestosterone.com/forum/index.php?topic=758.msg7141#msg7141

15) 1) Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine, 1981, 7(1):69-73, “Effect of Zinc Administration on Plasma Testosterone, Dihydrotestosterone, and Sperm Count”

16) J Hum Reprod Sci. 2010 Sep-Dec; 3(3): 124 128, “Relationship between seminal plasma zinc and semen quality in a subfertile population”