Zinc – Female and Male Fertility

Let’s talk about fertility! When seeking to conceive and get pregnant there is often a lot of discussion on taking Folic Acid, however very few individuals talk about other vitamins, for example, Vitamin D, Magnesium, CQ10, Zinc, plus others.  This blog is to discuss and inform about Zinc and the powerful effects it can have through research on helping conception. 

Many men and women do not have optimal levels of zinc, this can be noted in infections, colds, and chronic inflammation. The contraceptive pill can also reduce zinc levels over time so there is a potential you will need more than you may think.  

Zinc – Female fertility

Zinc is vital for cell metabolism, it supports the immune system and helps produce new DNA and cells for development and growth.  In fertility, zinc regulates the hormones to ensure ovulation is regular.  Zinc is believed to stimulate the pituitary gland, which releases sex hormones in the body, including follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinising hormones (LH).  These are essential in the menstruation cycle as FSH stimulates the maturation of follicles (release of the egg) and LH encourages ovulation.    

It helps support a woman in the production of eggs, the release of hormones and the growth and development of a healthy foetus.  Zinc has been found to be essential for the protection of the fertilised embryo directly after conception as it can provide the embryo with a hardened membrane.        

Research conducted in 2021 (Garner et al, in the Biology of Reproduction publication) reported that zinc is a significant component in a number of processes that regulate female germ cell growth.  During follicle development, a sufficient supply of zinc is necessary for the oocyte to form a fertilisation competent egg.  

During pregnancy, zinc recommendations increase as the element has been found to be essential for the successful implantation, growth and development of the foetus.  In 2015 a study was conducted on zinc in early life (Terrin et al, Nutrients publication) and found that low levels during embryogenesis can affect baby development and function. 

Zinc – Male fertility

Zinc is also important for men as it aids healthy sperm formation.  A zinc deficiency in men may result in a drop or lower sperm count and can lower testosterone levels.  

Zinc is found in high concentrations of sperm and is involved in the sperm motility.   Zinc is notably most concentrated within the seminal plasma (the fluid that carries sperm within the ejaculate), which is nourished by high levels of zinc. 

The seminal plasma is nearly 100 times more concentrated with zinc than in the blood serum.  This suggests the importance of zinc for not only the production of motile sperm but the successful transport of sperm within the zinc-packed ejaculate to an egg. 

Food sources for Zinc

There are several different foods which have zinc, for example, but not limited to only this list: 

Oysters, crab, prawns, Beef, sun-dried tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, beans, squash, pumpkin, sesame seeds, cashews, 

To note: each item of food will have a different level of zinc against the Daily Value (DV) intake.  An indication is 1 once of cashews contains 15% of the DV.