Zinc for Erectile Dysfunction

(Article medically reviewed by Dr. Zac Hyde M.D)

If you’re thinking about using zinc for erectile dysfuntion, you’re definitely on the right track.

Vitamins, minerals, and other natural elements make up the fuel that our various organs need to operate correctly. 

Should we become deficient in any one or – in some cases – multiple of these nutrients, it can have serious consequences for our bodies. 

When it comes to male sexual health, few minerals are more vital than Zinc. 

Should your Zinc levels decline at any point, it could spell disaster, with a capital “D.” 

For example…


Zinc for Erectile Dysfunction

There are basically two elements to a healthy erection: blood and nitric oxide. Unfortunately, a Zinc deficiency can negatively impact both of these elements, eventually reducing the quality of your hard-on or potentially eliminating your ability to get an erection altogether.

Though the latter is a worst-case scenario, it’s important to note just how much this one mineral contributes to your sexual health. 

For instance, research shows that even moderate Zinc deficiency can affect blood pressure, arterial flow, and the vascular nitric oxide pathway (source).

In the case of the linked study, the rats were fed a controlled diet specifically lacking in Zinc. This led to them developing hypertension (high blood pressure) in just 60 days while simultaneously displaying a heavy reduction in nitric oxide flow. 

As you may already know, between 49% and 68% of men who suffer from high blood pressure also report some degree of erectile dysfunction.

This is because increased blood pressure damages the arterial walls, causing them to narrow and harden over time. In the end, this means reduced blood flow going to your extremities – including your boner. 

However, the nitric oxide issue is also significant, as this is the principal agent responsible for relaxing the smooth muscles of the penis so that an erection can be triggered. 

In short: No NO, no nookie. 

Zinc Deficits Can Deplete Your Testosterone Levels 

By now, you should already be well aware of how testosterone contributes to pretty much everything masculine about you.

Since Zinc is a vital ingredient in the production of key sex hormones, a Zinc deficiency can rapidly increase the depletion of your testosterone levels, wreaking havoc on your hormones and bodily processes (source).

From reduced sex drive and depression to problems concentrating, fatigue, and weight gain, “hypogonadism,” as it’s known, will eventually lead to tons of issues.  

The worst part of all? 

Low testosterone levels can also contribute to the worsening of your erectile dysfunction. 

While the degree to which your penile prowess declines will vary based on a lot of factors, the lack of sex drive and regular spontaneous erections that stem from your low T can eventually contribute to penile atrophy. 

If this happens, it will put a serious cork in your ability to perform. 

Low Zinc Causes Your Testicles to Shrink

Over the years, multiple studies have made it clear that Zinc is essential for all aspects of male fertility. 

This includes playing roles in germination, fertilization, and sperm quality. Unfortunately, men with Zinc deficiencies tend to display less developed testicles, which can affect the entire “factory” from the inside out.

In moderate-to-severe cases, prolonged lack of Zinc can contribute to both testicular atrophy and spermatocyte (the cells that produce spermatozoa) degeneration. 

As you may or may not know, testicular atrophy takes place when the tissues and cells of the testicles harden and shrink.

This cuts them out of the body’s normal testosterone-producing cycle, leading to infertility, reduced muscle mass, and a drastically reduced sex drive.

It’s also worth noting that while the issues that cause testicular atrophy are treatable, the condition itself is sometimes irreversible. 

Lack of Zinc = Unhealthy Sperm

By now, it should be pretty clear just how crucial Zinc is to your sexual health.

However, there are even more dramatic (and less noticeable) ways in which a Zinc deficiency can negatively affect your reproductive system.

You see, your Zinc levels are strongly associated with both sperm volume and each “little swimmer’s” overall health.

In fact, a single ejaculation can expend up to 5 mg of Zinc, so you could say it’s pretty vital to the process. 

When looking at males who suffer from various levels of infertility, it was found that they had drastically different levels of Zinc in their seminal plasma (source).

Later on, it was discovered that Zinc’s main role in the production of sperm is to protect those cells from bacteria and free radicals that might damage the cells (source).

Like a suit of armor for your semen, Zinc is crucial to ensuring your sperm can stay healthy enough to pass on your genes. 

Zinc Deficiency Can Zap Your Sex Drive (Through Your Sense of Smell)

So far, we’ve talked about a lot of Zinc-related conditions that will have pretty direct effects on your reproductive system.

Clearly, weaker erections, lowered T levels, and testicular atrophy will all impact your desire and ability to have a rich and fulfilling sex life.

In fact, this has been backed up in both human and animal studies many times over. But there’s even more to the “Zinc-Sex Connection” than that. 

You see, a 2013 study also concluded that Zinc has a direct effect on arousal and your ability to maintain an erection – just not in the way you think.

As it turns out, a Zinc deficiency can actually reduce your sense of smell, making it harder for you to detect your partner’s pheromones.

Keep in mind: this is on top of the potential ED and low testosterone that is already keeping you from achieving adequate levels of horniness. So if you’re low on Zinc, you’re really stacking the deck against your dick. 

Zinc Deficiency Slows Wound Healing

Let’s back away from the strictly sexual side effects of Zinc deficiency and talk about some overall health problems that might result from a lack of proper mineral maintenance.

If we haven’t mentioned it before, Zinc is present in all bodily tissues and fluids, as well as countless types of cells spread all around your body. In fact, after iron, it is the most abundant trace mineral in the human body. 

This is because Zinc is essential to many aspects of our overall health. One that many don’t think of is our ability to heal wounds.

You see, studies show that Zinc is actually responsible for regulating the various phases of healing, including membrane repair, oxidative stress, inflammation and immune response, scar formation, and tissue repair.

Without proper zinc levels, wounds will not only heal slower – they will leave more noticeable scars. 

Of course, there is a sexual component to this, especially if you’ve been taking our advice and using a vacuum pump (insert link) to treat erectile dysfunction.

After all, because this process requires the constant repair of the tissues and blood vessels in the penis, slow wound healing may significantly delay your progress. 

Zinc Lowers Immunity (Which Curbs Sexual Health)

As you may have guessed from the information in the last section, Zinc also plays a very important role in our immune system.

In fact, if you had a parent who was even partially plugged into the holistic or herbal medicine world, they likely started dosing you with Zinc the minute you got those wintertime sniffles. 

You see, Zinc is essential to the development and ongoing health of the cells that affect our immune response.

Indeed, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that zinc lozenges and syrups can help reduce the length of the common cold, providing you take them as soon as symptoms appear.

And while a deficiency is undoubtedly capable of weakening your immune system, it also causes resources to be drawn away from your reproductive efforts.

So, if your body is always “on the defense,” your overall sexual health will suffer as a result. 

Zinc Deficiency May Cause Premature Ejaculation

In the world of health-related sexual dysfunction, premature ejaculation is far from the worst thing that could happen.

However, it can still have a significant effect on your sex life, your self-confidence, and your ability to have fulfilling relationships.

Moreover, in cases where it isn’t completely psychological, it is a real, honest-to-goodness health problem that needs to be addressed. 

This sort of premature ejaculation can arise from abnormal hormone levels, issues with brain chemicals, and – as you might have expected – zinc deficiency.

In fact, many urologists and sex therapists are now prescribing Zinc supplementation to almost all patients who report suffering from premature ejaculation, regardless of the underlying cause. 

Zinc Deficiency Reduces Nutrient Absorption

At the very beginning of this article, I mentioned how vitamins, minerals, and other natural elements are the fuel our organs need to operate as intended.

Well, one of the reasons why we might become deficient in these nutrients is that we lack the ability to properly absorb them from the food we eat (or supplements we take).

And though it might seem like Zinc already handles more jobs than a 1950s housewife, it plays yet another role in our ability to process food.  

Specifically, research shows that your gastrointestinal system needs an adequate supply of Zinc to capture vitamins like D, E, A, K, and B before they get converted to waste (source).

You might recognize these vitamins as quite literally the building blocks of your general health, so it should come as no surprise that not getting enough of them will knock all sorts of bodily processes out of whack.

To make matters worse, you might be eating a great diet or taking supplements that you’re not seeing any benefit from. 

Zinc Deficiency Causes

Everybody – and literally every body – is different. This means that there’s no single reason why a person might be deficient in Zinc. However, there are some “common culprits” that we can use as a jumping-off point.

And remember, whether you suspect a zinc deficiency or not, any one of these conditions should encourage you to take a closer look. 

  • Vegetarian Diet

You can argue morality and healthiness all you want. As far as your body is concerned, you are an omnivore. Like it or not, part of being an omnivore means eating meat. In fact, red meat is one of the best sources of Zinc on the planet, with 3.5 oz. of raw ground beef containing up to 4.8 mg. That’s nearly 50% of your daily recommended intake in just a few bites of a burger!

  • Alcoholism

We’ve had plenty of discussions about how alcohol can lead to problems both above the waist and below it. But according to studies like this one, alcohol abuse can not only lead to chronic Zinc depletion in the lungs, liver, belly, and brain, but contribute to what’s know as “leaky gut.” A condition that affects the permeability of your gastrointestinal system, a leaky gut can introduce toxins to your body and affect your immune response.

  • Kidney Disease

If you’re suffering from kidney disorders of any kind, you need to be aware of how such conditions can drastically reduce your Zinc levels. This is especially true of patients on hemodialysis, which causes the removal of Zinc to the point that it affects all nutrient absorption. Given enough time, the body may lack enough Zinc to replenish its supplies from food alone. 

  • High Doses of Iron

I mentioned above that the only micronutrient more common in the human body than Zinc is iron. However, it’s important to realize that (like estrogen and testosterone) these two nutrients have a competitive relationship. This means that an excess of iron may inhibit zinc absorption (and vice versa). 

  • Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and Celiac Disease

Zinc deficiencies are strongly tied to gut problems, particularly those that fall under the category of inflammatory bowel diseases. The worst of these, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, and celiac, can quickly lead to serious Zinc deficiencies. Unfortunately, this lack of Zinc often makes treating the bowel disorder even more difficult. 

  • Certain Prescription Drugs & Medications

As with all things pharmaceutical, certain medications (which we’ll discuss in more detail in a moment) can lead to nutrient deficiencies as well. The most common medicines associated with Zinc depletion include HRAs, Loop Diuretics, and Thiazide Diuretics. 

Prescription Medications That Deplete Zinc

Since you’re most likely not a doctor or nurse, I wanted to spend a little bit more time discussing the specific types of medicines that can lead to Zinc depletion. Keep in mind, these medicines don’t have to be “prescribed” or even “prescription strength” to have a negative effect on your Zinc levels. They just need to be something you take regularly enough to disrupt your body’s normal function. Medicines like: 

  • Antacids – Specifically those containing magnesium, calcium, and aluminum. This includes brands like Gaviscon, Mylanta, Tums, and Pepcid (as well as dozens of others). 
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications – Both corticosteroids like Hydrocortisone and Prednisone and NSAIDs like Ibuprofen and Naproxen. 
  • Anticonvulsant Medications – Specifically valproic acid derivatives like Depakene and Convulex. 
  • Birth Control Medications – This applies to pretty much all oral birth controls, including Alesse, Logo, and Alysena, to name a few. 
  • Cardiovascular Medications – More specifically, we’re looking at Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors like Capoten, Vasotec, and Monopril. 
  • Diuretics – The term “Diuretic” refers to any substance that contributes to the production of urine. Common culprits here include thiazide diuretics like Clorpres, Tenoretic, Capozide, and Dyazide. 
  • Ulcer Medications – In this case, we’re looking at Histamine H2 Antagonists like Pepcid, Pepcid AC, Axid, and Tagamet. 

If you regularly take any of these medications (especially if you have any of the conditions listed in the last section), it’s entirely possible that you may have a Zinc deficiency. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to rectify this situation, staring with the addition of supplements and changes in your daily food intake. 

Foods That Are High in Zinc

Whenever you’re dealing with a nutrition-based deficiency, the first thing you should try to do is solve it nutritionally.

If you’re not a particularly adventurous eater, or if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s quite possible that you can deal with your problems by merely expanding your diet so that it includes more Zinc-rich foods.

Foods like…

  • Oysters 
  • Beef
  • Alaska King Crab
  • Lobster
  • Pork chops or Pork Loin
  • Baked Beans, Kidney Beans
  • Fortified Breakfast Cereals
  • Chicken
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Yogurt
  • Cashews, Almonds
  • Chickpeas
  • Swiss, Cheddar, and Mozzarella Cheese
  • Oatmeal
  • Milk (low fat or non-fat)
  • Cheese
  • Peas
  • Flounder, Sole

Oysters? Yeah, you can get a full 74 mg. of Zinc from just three ounces of them.

So even if you consider them to be disgusting sea boogers, you might want to develop a taste for them if you’re Zinc deficient, as one is enough to supply you with more than your daily allotment. 

The rest of the items on the list all include much lower doses, but they’re also much more common.

From dry roasted nuts to staple meats to fortified cereals and beans, you can easily hit your daily percentages with a hearty breakfast or dinner. 

Best Zinc Supplements 

If you’re married to your current diet or fear that your Zinc levels may have deteriorated to the point where nutrient absorption is affected, supplements might be a better course of action. 

Many men, including myself, take a regular round of supplements every day in order to counter or support the specific ways in which our bodies function. 

However, the one thing I want you to realize before you go off on some Zinc binge, is that not all Zinc supplements are created equal. 

For example…

  • Zinc Orotate​ – These supplements are created by binding Zinc and orotic acid. Studies show that it is the most readily absorbed type of supplement in the Zinc family. 
  • Zinc Gluconate – Perhaps the most common type of OTC Zinc supplement, this is made using fermented glucose, which extends the shelf life dramatically. It also contains the least amount of cadmium (which can damage kidneys) of all the supplements listed. 
  • Zinc Acetate – The result of combining the element with acetic acid, Zinc acetate is the best option for treating the common cold, and it is often included in nasal sprays, lozenges, and other cold remedies. 
  • Zinc Citrate – Thanks to the addition of citric acid, this supplement has a much less bitter taste than many of the others. You commonly see it in toothpaste and mouthwash as well.
  • Zinc Picolinate – Basically a chelated form of Zinc salt, this popular supplement is commonly used in the treatment of zinc deficiencies and has been shown to perform quite satisfactorily. 
  • Enzyme Activated Zinc – This option is relatively new on the market and differs from chelated or elemental Zinc in a few important ways. Specifically, it is made from whole-food fermentation to maximize absorption. Of all the options listed, this is the most similar to getting Zinc from food. 

I could get behind you taking any of the above Zinc supplements, though I’d recommend something like Zinc Orotate or Gluconate if I had the chance.

However, there are some Zinc supplement types out there that I advise you to avoid, including the following inorganic options. 

  • Zinc Sulfate​ – Unfortunately, though this supplement type is perfectly water-soluble, the sulfate can interact with the calcium and cause stomach irritations. That’s not to say that Zinc Sulfate doesn’t have its uses, but they mostly lie in treating skin lesions via injection. 
  • Zinc Oxide – Zinc oxide is mostly used for topical purposes, and it can be found in many treatments for sunburn and dermatitis. It has very low bioavailability as an oral supplement, so I don’t recommend it for people suffering from deficiencies. 

Zinc For Erectile Dysfunction Dosages

Before we go, I feel it’s important to circle around to the topics we were discussing at the very beginning of this article. 

Specifically, why you should be using zinc for erectile dysfunction and other male sexual disorders if you haven’t been supplementing or if your diet has been deficient in the mineral. 

For healthy individuals, the recommended daily dosage of Zinc is around 11 milligrams per day. 

If you’re suffering from Zinc deficiency, you can bump that up to between 25 and 45 milligrams per day. 

Any more than that, and you risk developing a condition known as “Zinc Toxicity.” This can manifest as nausea, vomiting, and lethargy. 

That’s why I recommend you talk to your Doctor or homeopath before you start taking high amounts of Zinc. 

You should also consider taking a copper supplement to keep your elevated Zinc levels from depleting that element in turn. 

And some studies have also found additional benefits by combining zinc with folic acid, although the jury is still out on this one.

Zinc for Erectile Dysfunction Conclusion:

Whether you are suffering from erectile or sexual dysfunction issues or are merely concerned about your Zinc levels due to a chronic condition or lifestyle choice, you need to take steps to get your nutrient levels balanced again.

The longer conditions like ED, testicular atrophy, and low T levels persist, the sooner they become the “new normal” for your body.

Once this happens, they will only be more and more difficult to reverse. 

About the Author Mark

Article edited by Mark Wilson. Mark currently owns 5 sites in the men's sexual health niche and has published more than 5,000 articles and blog posts on dozens of websites all over the world wide web.

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