Effects of Zinc on Male Hypogonadism

How crucial is zinc in male sexual abilities and what are the positive effects of zinc on male hypogonadism?

However, before we look at that let us first answer a few questions.

What is male hypogonadism?

Male hypogonadism is a disorder in which the body produces low amounts of either sperm or the hormone testosterone, which is essential for the growth and development of men.

Testosterone is the hormone essential for men’s health. It is in charge of maintaining sexual drive and muscle and bone strength. Testosterone levels peak in early adulthood and gradually decline by 1% every year from the age of 30.

Men may develop hypogonadism(hypogonadism refers to when the testicles don’t produce enough of the male sex hormone testosterone) if their testosterone levels are below the normal range. 

Functions that depend on testosterone 

Testosterone affects the male body in several ways because the male body contains testosterone receptors all over it which utilize testosterone for various purposes.

The following are some of the testosterone-dependent processes:

  • Testosterone is required for beard and body hair development; hair develops from the hormone stimulating the follicles.
  • It is well known that testosterone controls libido. It makes a man more ready to have sex.
  • It aids in the generation of strong sperm.
  • Testosterone affects some behavioral characteristics in males.
  • Testosterone is also necessary for fat metabolism. The hormone contributes to more equitable fat distribution, ensuring there isn’t a buildup of belly fat.
  • The hormone is essential for preserving a healthy level of bone density.
  • A proper level of testosterone in the body is necessary for heart health.

In men, testosterone is predominantly produced in the testes. The kidneys also contribute a minor amount to the hormone’s production.

Types and causes of hypogonadism

Several curable medical problems can cause hypogonadism. You may not believe it but the cause could be as simple as zinc deficiency.

Primary and secondary hypogonadism are the two fundamental kinds of hypogonadism.

Primary Hypogonadism

Underdeveloped testes bring on primary hypogonadism, which doesn’t produce enough testosterone to support healthy and optimal growth. Most of the time, a hereditary characteristic may be the root cause of the testes not developing fully. 

Underdeveloped testes can also be acquired through disease or an accident.

The inherited conditions that can result in primary hypogonadism are:

  • Klinefelter’s syndrome: a disorder in which a man is born with three sex chromosomes: X, X, and Y. 
  • Undescended testicles occur when the testicles do not descend from the abdomen before birth.
  • Hemochromatosis: Excessive blood iron levels which result in testicular failure or injury to the pituitary

Testicle injuries that can result in primary hypogonadism include the following:

  • Physical injury: Both testicles must be damaged for testosterone levels to be impacted.
  • Mumps Orchitis: Testicles may be hurt by a mumps infection.
  • Cancer Treatment: Testicles can be damaged with chemotherapy or radiation during cancer treatment. 

Secondary Hypogonadism

The leading causes of secondary hypogonadism are Pituitary or hypothalamic injury. These brain regions regulate how much hormone the testes produce.

This category includes inherited or disease-related disorders like:

  • Drug-induced pituitary issues, kidney disease, or tiny tumors
  • Kallmann syndrome, a disorder associated with improper hypothalamic function
  • The pituitary gland can be affected by inflammatory disorders such as tuberculosis.
  • HIV/AIDS can have an impact on the testicles, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland 

The following acquired situations can result in secondary hypogonadism:

  • Normal aging: Hormone synthesis and reaction are impacted by age.
  • Obesity: Excessive body fat can alter hormone responsiveness and production.
  • Medication: Steroids and opioid painkillers may impair pituitary and hypothalamic function.
  • Concurrent illness: The reproductive system may temporarily shut down due to intense mental stress or physical stress brought on by a disease or operation.

You can have primary, secondary, or mixed hypogonadism. With advancing age, mixed hypogonadism becomes more prevalent. It can either happen to those receiving glucocorticoid medication or may impact those with thalassemia, alcoholism, or sickle-cell disease. 

Symptoms of Male Hypogonadism

Hypogonadism can arise during fetal development, before puberty, or later in life. The signs and symptoms vary depending on when it appears. 

Hypogonadism during fetal development

If the body does not produce enough testosterone during fetal development, the external sex organs may not develop properly. A genetically male child may be born with any of the following traits, depending on when hypogonadism occurs and the level of testosterone in the body:

  • Female genital organs
  • Genitals that are neither male nor female (ambiguous genitals)
  • underdeveloped male genitals.

Male hypogonadism during puberty

Male hypogonadism can prevent or postpone puberty and lead to abnormal or incomplete growth. It may inhibit:

  • Growth of muscular mass
  • Deepening of voice
  • Hair growth on the body and the face
  • development of the testicles and penis

And it may result in the following:

  • Excessive arm and leg growth in comparison to the trunk of the body
  • development of breast tissue (gynecomastia) 

Male hypogonadism in adults

Hypogonadism in grown males can affect several physically masculine traits and normal reproductive function. Some of the early warning indicators and symptoms could be:

  • Reduced sex desire
  • Energy loss
  • Depression

Men with hypogonadism may eventually:

  • Develop erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Infertility
  • Reduction in body and facial hair 
  • Growth reduction in muscle mass
  • Growth of breast tissue (gynecomastia)
  • Bone mass loss (osteoporosis)

Mental and emotional disturbances can also result from severe hypogonadism. Some men experience signs of menopause as their testosterone levels drop. These may consist of the following:

  • Concentration issues
  •  Hot flushes 

Effects of Zinc on male hypogonadism

Zinc is a necessary dietary mineral that is essential for cell division and the efficient operation of your immune system. Zinc assists enzymes in food digestion and the breaking down of other nutrients.

Additionally, it is crucial for enzymes that create proteins. Aside from being present in some foods, zinc can also be found in supplements and over-the-counter cold medicines.

Take note that zinc inadequacy might result in reduced testosterone. It is unclear why a zinc deficiency affects testosterone levels. However, it is known that the mineral may impact testosterone-producing cells. 

Research shows that the right zinc supplements can help you increase your testosterone levels. One study investigated the results of a magnesium and zinc supplement, and it showed that men who consumed 30 milligrams of zinc daily had higher levels of free testosterone.

It is important to note that zinc is among the nutrients that cannot be stored in the body; therefore, you need to consume it daily. The daily recommended zinc intake for males over 19 is 11 milligrams.

Powerful sources of zinc are:

  • Beef 
  • Crab 
  • Oysters 
  • Fortified bread and grains
  • Pork 
  • Beans
  • Chicken 
  • Yogurt 
  • Nuts 
  • Oats 

Zinc Supplements 

Zinc is present in several dietary supplements. A small amount of zinc is usually included in vitamin and mineral supplements.

Men should be aware of zinc deficiencies because the mineral boosts testosterone when levels are low. Vegans and vegetarians are more likely to experience a zinc shortage. Alcoholics are also at a higher risk of acquiring a deficiency in this mineral. 

The bottom line

Men who lack enough testosterone may experience issues with their sexual health, fertility, mental health, and several physiological problems. 
 It is advisable that for any condition suspected, an investigation into the root cause is done. According to studies, a drop in testosterone may be related to low zinc levels. In cases like this, you should consider using a zinc supplement.

Also read,  Zinc: Everything you Should Know Including Uses, Health advantages, Dose Suggestions, and Side Effects

Acha Maoni

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