Tired all the time. Achy muscles. Sore joints. Low sex drive. Weak muscles. Foggy thinking. Weight gain. Depression. Pretty pathetic list of ailments, wouldn’t you say? If you are a man suffering with these symptoms, then chances are you dealing with low testosterone levels. There is one mineral that you could be deficient in that could be lowering your testosterone and stealing your manhood.
Adequate levels of testosterone in a man are vitally important for overall health, good mental function, a healthy sex drive, and longevity. Lower levels of testosterone actually decrease your life expectancy by up to seven years! Obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation, and other factors can increase the activity of an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase is responsible for converting testosterone into estradiol. When this occurs in a balanced way, it’s a healthy process. However, when the scales become tipped and you start converting too much testosterone, health consequences are right around the corner. This increased activity of the aromatase enzyme leads to lower testosterone levels for men, with much higher estrogen levels. Not a good thing if you are in to preserving your masculinity.
The trace mineral, zinc, is a natural aromatase inhibitor. This means it blocks the activity of this enzyme, but does so in a healthy way. Zinc helps to regulate the amount of testosterone that is allowed to be converted into estradiol (estrogen). This activity is important for men, especially when it comes to prostate health. Zinc is hugely important in having a healthy prostate and decreasing your risk of prostate cancer.
Zinc, like all the trace minerals, must be exposed to a very strong stomach acid to aid in proper absorption. The problem today is that so many people are eating poor diets that reduce trace minerals and/or they are taking antacids each day which compounds the problem.
How Do I Know If My Zinc Levels Are Normal?
There are a number of ways you can measure and assess whether your zinc levels are normal.
- Look at your fingernails: Do you have little white spots on your nails? These are often times signs of zinc deficiency.
- Zinc Tally Taste Test: You can use a small sample of a zinc sulfate solution to see if your zinc status is sufficient. This solution is held in your mouth for a few seconds and then swallowed. You then grade your taste, or response, to the solution. In a normal zinc state there is a fairly strong taste that is noted immediately. If you take the solution and it tastes like water (I see this all the time in my office when I am checking zinc status) then chances are you have some zinc deficiency issues.
- Is your alkaline phosphatase below 70?: When you go to the doctor and have a chemistry panel done with your blood, they will often look at a marker called alkaline phosphatase. If this level is below 70 it is highly suggestive of a zinc deficiency.
- Zinc blood tests: If you are so inclined to do so you could have your zinc blood levels tested. I normally don’t order these tests for patients because they can be quite expensive and I have found that correlating the physical examination, symptoms list, zinc taste test and the alkaline phosphatase levels to be really accurate and less expensive.
If you are a man and you struggle with any of the list of symptoms we mentioned at the start of this post, then you should consider your zinc levels.
If you have acid reflux, indigestion, or take antacids, then you should consider your zinc levels.
If you have chronic infections and illnesses, then you should consider your zinc levels.
If you have irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel, diverticulitis, or constipation, then you should consider your zinc levels.
Make sure your diet, supplement program, and lifestyle encourage adequate zinc status, so that you can prevent a mineral deficiency that could start stealing your manhood!