This water-soluble trace mineral is found in nearly every cell in our bodies. It’s highly concentrated in bones, skin, hair, nails, eyes, and in the prostate and testes. An integral component of over 200 enzymes, zinc is involved in thousands of functions — from muscle protein synthesis and cell growth to testosterone production and wound healing. It’s probably involved in more bodily functions than any other mineral.

Summary

This trace mineral is involved in thousands of bodily functions — from proper cell growth to testosterone production. Unfortunately, physical activity, food processing, and aging can lead to deficiencies of zinc in our bodies. Avoiding zinc deficiencies is absolutely essential for healthy immune functioning and our overall health. Though zinc is most often used as part of a multivitamin/mineral formula, active individuals, especially athletes, have become interested in zinc because of its important role in testosterone production.
Science

Why athletes use Zinc
Low levels of zinc are widespread in the United States and are especially common in the elderly, vegetarians, and hard-training athletes. For that matter, any active person may have an increased need for zinc because exercise can increase levels of potentially harmful free radicals. If you want to support a robust immune response, healthy sexual function and testosterone production, and a healthy prostate, zinc is a critical trace mineral you can’t afford to be deficient in.

Ways that Zinc can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:

Regulate hormone production, which may increase testosterone production

Ways that Zinc can enhance Longevity:

Stimulate the primary antioxidant enzyme in the body to boost immune functioning

Research

Zinc Deficiency Issues in Athletes
Although zinc is naturally found in our bodies in relatively small amounts, only about two grams total, deficiencies are more common than with any other mineral. Research shows that individuals who are physically active may require additional zinc in their diets because they are at greater risk for zinc deficiencies because of increased sweating. In addition, some recent environmental changes and food processing further compromise zinc from our food supply. Then couple that with aging — the greatest factor in zinc deficiency.

What that adds up to is a strong case for zinc deficiency in our bodies. A deficiency that can leave us with minimal testosterone production, susceptible to infections, and with inadequate wound healing when injured.

Low levels of zinc have also been linked to prostate enlargement, diminished sex drive, and infertility. And, studies indicate that as little as one month of low zinc intake can reduce male testosterone levels by 20%. Clearly, this is not a desired state if we are seeking muscle growth or optimal health.

Replace that lost zinc, however, and testosterone levels seem to rise: in one study, patients who typically had low levels of zinc supplemented with zinc for six months. The research revealed their testosterone levels soared by 85%. Another study, this one published in 1996, found similar results with healthy men — these men with moderate zinc deficiencies doubled their testosterone levels within six months.

Research has also shown that a high percentage of endurance athletes have low serum zinc concentrations. Because zinc is required for several of the enzymes involved in energy metabolism, these low zinc levels are theorized to reduce endurance capacity.

Benefits

◦Protein synthesis*
◦Hormone levels*
◦Digestion*
◦Cholesterol levels already within a normal range*
◦Muscle building enthusiasts and athletes alike should look into taking zinc, as it plays a key role in the muscle growth process, so don’t let your zinc levels become deficient.*
References

1. Journal of Leukocyte Biology Article
2. Zinc May Enhance Growth in Young Sickle Cell Patients
3. Zinc Deficiency Delays Gastric Ulcer Healing in Rats
4. Brilla, L.R., and Conte, V., “Effects of Zinc-Magnesium (ZMA) Supplementation on Muscle Attributes of Football Players,” Med Sci Spor Exer 31.5 (1999) : S123.
5. Cordova, A., and Navas, F.J., “Effect of Training on Zinc Metabolism: Changes in Serum and Sweat Concentrations in Sportsmen,” Ann Nutr Metab 42.5 (1998) : 274-82.
6. Cordova, A., and Alvarez-Mon, M., “Behaviour of Zinc in Physical Exercise: A Special Reference to Immunity and Fatigue,” Neurosci Biobehav Rev 19.3 (1995) : 439-45.
7. Couzy, F., et al., “Zinc Metabolism in the Athlete: Influence of Training, Nutrition and Other Factors,” Int J Sports Med 11.4 (1990) : 263-6.
8. Haralambie, G., “Serum Zinc in Athletes in Training,” Int J Sports Med 2.3 (1981) : 135-8.
9. Richardson, J.H., and Drake, P.D., “The Effects of Zinc on Fatigue of Striated Muscle,” J Sports Med Phys Fitness 19.2 (1979) : 133-4.
10. Van Loan, M.D., et al., “The Effects of Zinc Depletion on Peak Force and Total Work of Knee and Shoulder Extension and Flexor Muscles,” Int J Sport Nutr 9.2 (1999) : 125-35.