Zinc is a mineral that the human body needs to consume on a daily basis, though only in small doses. It is an essential part of genetic material and is found in every cell of the human body. Thus it is essential for the proper functioning of our bodies on any given day. When we are trying to conceive, the importance of zinc increases immensely. The research conducted on zinc and its effect on fertility is extensive, and it is possibly the most researched mineral in fertility studies.
Firstly, for women, zinc is crucial to maintaining a healthy level of hormones (estrogen, testosterone and progesterone) and keeping them stable. Stable hormones mean regular menstrual cycles and optimum condition during the cycle. Secondly, zinc plays an integral part in maintaining fluid levels within the fallopian tubes. Without fluids, eggs (or ovum) cannot travel through the tubes to the uterus, where a fertilised egg needs to be to implant if a pregnancy is going to begin. Thirdly, and most importantly, zinc is required for the proper development of healthy and mature eggs within the ovaries because it helps to metabolise proteins required for cell creation. Without them, pregnancy cannot happen. A zinc deficiency has also been linked to miscarriages, as well as fibroid issues- which hinder the ability for a woman to conceive.
For men, the importance of zinc is all centred around the quality and number of sperm. It has been identified as an important factor for increasing sperm numbers as well as improving the form, function and quality of the sperm, too. When partnered with folic acid, zinc has been shown to exponentially increase the number of sperm produced by a man. A deficiency in zinc can result in a chromosome defect within the sperm, which means that even if an egg is fertilised and implants, it is unlikely to survive. Additionally, the construction of sperm is reliant upon zinc. When a zinc deficiency occurs, some sperm may not develop properly, hindering their ability to grow to a stage that they can survive the long journey through the reproductive organs of the female and find an egg.
It is important that both men and women seek to increase their zinc levels while trying to conceive, as well as for their overall health. Supplements can be taken to increase daily doses, but consuming foods with a high concentration of zinc will also help.
Zinc can be found naturally in the following foods: