When it comes to optimizing fertility, the importance of male reproductive health is often overlooked in comparison to that of a female. Of course, we all know that the female body has a huge role to play in carrying a child from conception to birth, and there is a lot relying on her fertile health. But what about the role male fertility plays?


Issues in male fertility play a more causative role in infertility cases than we may realise. Male infertility is a contributing factor in around 50% of infertility cases, which unfortunately affects up to 12% of couples globally. The causes of male fertility issues are predominantly related to suboptimal sperm health, such as low counts and poor-quality sperm, which essentially affects the main event – egg fertilization.


Although diagnosing conditions in male infertility is most often evaluated through semen analysis, there are many diagnostic techniques that are used in conjunction with semen analysis to assist in developing ways to improve and manage sperm health. A few of these include looking at nutrient and hormone levels in the body to see what can be improved, such as diet and lifestyle changes, to optimize male fertility.


One nutrient that can’t be overlooked when talking about male fertility is zinc. So, why is zinc so important for sperm health and how can we get more of this powerful mineral naturally?


Spotlight on Zinc

Zinc not only plays significant roles throughout our whole body, recently praised for its assistance in optimizing immune health, but it holds major responsibilities in male reproduction. One fact being that seminal fluid actually contains the highest amounts of zinc in the body. Hence one reason for its importance. 


Daily requirements for zinc are considerably higher for men than women, 14mg/day compared to 8mg/day. Which is crazily almost double. So why so much more?


Apart from seminal fluid having high zinc concentrations, each ejaculation actually causes a loss of 2.5mg of zinc and during this the prostate gland releases even more zinc into the seminal plasma. This prioritization of zinc levels in the seminal fluid has a lot to do with optimizing the steps leading up to, and including, fertilization. Notably, studies have found that fertile men have considerably higher levels of zinc compared to their infertile individuals.


Roles of Zinc in Male Fertility

Having abundant zinc is crucial for optimal male fertility. Firstly, without adequate zinc the proper development of 3 major male accessory sex glands would be impaired: testis, epididymis and prostate. But its benefits go far beyond this.


Spermatogenesis: The process of spermatogenesis is basically the development of sperm cells within the testes. The presence of optimal zinc is key in the early stages of sperm development and sperm cell survival during maturation. Without enough zinc sperm cell death occurs before proper maturation, leading to reduced sperm counts and impaired sperm in seminal fluid.


Capacitation: A collective term for the maturation changes sperm undergo within the female reproductive tract after ejaculation which allows sperm to interact with the egg. In vitro studies have shown that zinc is responsible for regulating these key changes in order to reach optimal egg fertilization.


Acrosomal Exocytosis: Another key process in fertilization is acrosomal exocytosis. The acrosome is the cap sitting over the oval shaped head of the sperm. During a process called exocytosis, enzymes are released from the acrosome to break down and penetrate the egg membrane (or zona pellucida) for fertilization. Studies on bovine sperm have shown that zinc helps stimulate this process.


Protection: The high concentration of seminal zinc also plays a role in protecting the sperm from bacterial attack within the female reproductive tract. This is due to the powerful antioxidant properties of zinc which prevents chromosomal damage of the sperm.


Zinc Through the Diet

Poor zinc nutrition is a major contributing factor in reduced sperm quality and male infertility. Deficiencies of zinc, even in mild cases, are associated with reduced testis volume and weight, gonadal dysfunction (like hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction), and failure of spermatogenesis. However, reports have shown that eating foods high in zinc can enhance male fertility.


The body does not produce zinc therefore it has to be consumed through the diet in sufficient amounts. The richest source of zinc is found in seafood, especially oysters, followed by other wholefoods such as animal proteins (meat, fish, dairy), nuts and legumes. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to eat a dozen oysters daily. But intentionally incorporating a variety of these foods on a daily basis will certainly help increase your body’s zinc levels and support your fertility.


Need a hand boosting your zinc fellas? Active Cycle, our specially curated hot chocolate formula, contains 12mg of zinc per serve – nearly 100% of the daily recommended male zinc intake. And guys, don’t be fooled by its pretty packaging! The ingredients will be beneficial for you too.


Agarwal, A., Baskaran, S., Parekh, N., Cho, C. L., Henkel, R., Vij, S., Arafa, M., Panner Selvam, M. K., & Shah, R. (2021). Male infertility. Lancet (London, England)397(10271), 319–333. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32667-2


Allouche-Fitoussi, D., & Breitbart, H. (2020). The Role of Zinc in Male Fertility. International journal of molecular sciences21(20), 7796. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21207796


Vickram, S., Rohini, K., Srinivasan, S., Nancy Veenakumari, D., Archana, K., Anbarasu, K., Jeyanthi, P., Thanigaivel, S., Gulothungan, G., Rajendiran, N., & Srikumar, P. S. (2021). Role of Zinc (Zn) in Human Reproduction: A Journey from Initial Spermatogenesis to Childbirth. International journal of molecular sciences22(4), 2188. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22042188


Zigo, M., Kerns, K., Sen, S., Essien, C., Oko, R., Xu, D., & Sutovsky, P. (2022). Zinc is a master-regulator of sperm function associated with binding, motility, and metabolic modulation during porcine sperm capacitation. Communications biology5(1), 538. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-022-03485-8


Fallah, A., Mohammad-Hasani, A., & Colagar, A. H. (2018). Zinc is an Essential Element for Male Fertility: A Review of Zn Roles in Men's Health, Germination, Sperm Quality, and Fertilization. Journal of reproduction & infertility19(2), 69–81.


Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.