In this article we will help you understand the fertility boosting effects of zinc on male and female fertility
Nutrition plays an integral role in maintaining a conducive environment for development of oocytes and sperms. Recent years sever studies are being conducted to investigate the fertility boosting effects of various nutrients in male and female fertility. In this article we will understand the role of one such fertility nutrient - zinc and how it impacts male and female fertility.
Fertility boosting effects of Zinc
Zinc is one the most abundant micro nutrients found in human body but unfortunately since it can be stored in our body it necessitates a regular dietary intake. The recommended daily dosage of zinc for men is 11 mg and for women is 8 mg.
Role of Zinc in female reproductive Functioning
Zinc is a key player in oocyte development including embryogenesis and Implantation.
After puberty, a complex cascade of events occurs to prepare groups of oocytes for maturation, ovulation and fertilization. Though a group of oocytes begins to mature each month, only one will be ovulated and have the chance of being fertilized. Multiple factors can influence whether a given oocyte will mature correctly and one day be ovulated, including the presence of sufficient levels of certain micronutrients. Zinc among them play a crucial role. Let’s find out how.
- Zinc requirement is crucial for oocytes during meiotic division, fertilization and embryo development.
- The developing oocyte is enclosed in a cluster of cells that provide nutrition and metabolic support to the developing oocyte. Zn play an important role in maintaining this metabolic support, improves preimplantation embryo development.
- Optimal embryo development to the blastocyst stage is partially dependent on the adequate Zn concentrations
Zinc deficiency can negatively affect the early stages of egg development, reducing the ability of the egg cells to divide and be fertilized. This may affect fertility months in the future. 
Investigating fertility boosting effects of Zinc:
A study designed to understand the fertility boosting effects of zinc investigated the role of zinc in early follicular development. The study found that shortage of zinc:
- Disrupted growth of cells in culture,
- Led to smaller egg cells early in development,
- Caused problems with development of somatic cells and elevated certain cell markers.
- Impaired the egg cell's ability to properly divide (meiosis), a necessary step before successful fertilization can occur. This defect persisted even after more zinc was introduced to the environment.
- Zinc also has an important role in preventing generation of ROS during first embryonic cleavage division
- Zinc acts as a co-factor for the various enzymes that includes enzymes that play a role in fighting oxidative stress caused by free radicles.
- It also stabilizes DNA conformation by contributing in several DNA repair enzymes, especially vital during early embryogenesis reported by a number of investigators
- Studies have shown Zinc plays a role in the cytoplasmic maturation of the oocyte and the fluctuation in zinc during oocyte maturation had long-lasting effects on early embryonic development
Conclusion drawn from the study:
This study is clearly indicated the fertility boosting effects of zinc, by proving that the Micronutrient availability can have early and long-lasting effects on egg quality.
Interestingly, the oocytes commonly used for in vitro fertilization are collected from antral follicles, so any effects of Zinc deficiency on prenatal development have already occurred. What does this mean, This means that women planning to get pregnant must make sure that any zinc deficiency is addressed at least 3 - 4 months before planning to conceive.
So Preconception zinc deficiency could spell bad news for future fertility
Role of Zinc in male reproductive Functioning:
Studies have indicated that the fertility boosting effects of Zinc extend to Male fertility as well. In fact Zn microelement is very essential for male fertility. It helps the development of gonads and normal growth, act as key factor in prostate gland function, increase testosterone production and finally improve spermatogenesis. It could be considered as a nutrient marker with many potentials in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of male infertility.
The many unique Physiological roles of Zinc in men include :
- Zinc helps improve the quality of sperm and sperm motility.
- Zn acts as a toxic repercussion against heavy metals and cigarette inflammatory agents.
- Zinc as a hormone balancer helps hormones such as testosterone, prostate and sexual health and functions as an antibacterial agent in men’s urea system.
- It plays a role in epithelial integrity, showing that Zn is essential for maintaining the lining of the reproductive organs and may have a regulative role in the progress of capacitation and acrosome reaction
- Zn deficiency impedes spermatogenesis and is a reason for sperm abnormalities and has a negative effect on serum testosterone concentration.
- Zn deficiency is correlated with reduction in testis volume, a decrease in testicular weight, hypogonadism, gonadal dysfunction, inadequate development of secondary sex specifications in human, shrinkage of seminiferous tubules, the failure of spermatogenesis, male gonad growth and hypogonadism 
- Zn has antibacterial activity and antilipid peroxidation properties that maintain sperm membrane stability and protect the testis against the degenerative changes
- Evidence suggests that seminal Zn has an important role in the physiologic functions of the sperm and that its reduced levels result in low seminal quality and subsequent chances of fertilization 
This shows that there is clear evidence of the fertility boosting effects of zinc on male and female fertility. It is important to note that zinc is linked with key physiological functions in both male and female reproduction. Therefore couple who are planning to get conceive have to make sure their zinc reserves are optimal and incorporate foods rich in Zinc in their diet.
Food Sources for Zinc:
- Legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans all contain substantial amounts of zinc. In fact, 100 grams of cooked lentils contain around 12% of the Daily value (DV).
- Oysters are high in zinc, but couples can also consume shrimp. 6 medium oysters providing 32 mg, or 291% of the DV while 100 gms of shrimp contain 14% of the DV of Zinc.
- Couples can boost their zinc intake, by taking squash, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Seeds contain fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, making them an excellent addition to your diet. Including them as part of a healthy diet has also been linked to some health benefits, including reduced cholestero land blood pressure.
- If you’re looking for a nut high in zinc, cashews are a good choice. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains 15% of the DV (17).
- Milk and cheese are two notable sources, as they contain high amounts of bioavailable zinc, meaning most of the zinc in these foods can be absorbed by your body (3Trusted Source).
- One large egg contains 5% of the DV for zinc, as well as a host of other nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, B vitamins, selenium and choline.
- Most vegetables are poor sources of zinc, but some like potato (9%) , Kale, green beans (3%) contain small amounts and would be a good idea to include them in your daily meals.
- Although, read meats are an excellent source of zinc they do have rather detrimental effects on fertility and are best swapped with other sources.
- Prasad AS. Discovery of human zinc deficiency: its impact on human health and disease. Advances in Nutrition. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(2):176–90
- Are zinc levels in seminal plasma associated with seminal leukocytes and other determinants of semen quality? Eggert-Kruse W, Zwick EM, Batschulat K, Rohr G, Armbruster FP, Petzoldt D, Strowitzki T ,Fertil Steril. 2002 Feb; 77(2):260-9.
- Colagar AH, Marzony ET, Chaichi MJ. Zinc levels in seminal plasma are associated with sperm quality in fertile and infertile men. Nutr Res. 2009;29(2):82–8.