Nothing is more important to bodybuilders than adding more muscle mass naturally, and we’re wiling to try some pretty unusual supplements to help in that quest. We would do well, though, to NOT overlook some common vitamins and minerals, like zinc.
Some experts have claimed for years that zinc helps build muscle, while others say that it’s a nutrient vital to health, but nothing more.
So what’s the truth about zinc? Can you take zinc for muscle growth?
Let’s take a deeper look.
What Is Zinc?
Zinc is a metal that is classified as an essential trace element. That means you need it to survive, though in very small amounts, and that your body cannot manufacture it. You must get it from your diet.
Zinc is known to play a role in vision health, proper immune system function, and wound healing. It’s also used as treatment for enlarged prostates, dry skin, ringing in the ears, and many other conditions.
Low zinc levels can lead to male infertility, and the metal is sometimes used as a fertility treatment.
Fertility is often related to testosterone, and that’s getting close to our wheelhouse as bodybuilders.
Can Zinc Raise Testosterone?
If your pulse picks up at the mention of testosterone, then you’re a true bodybuilder at heart. Testosterone is the king of the anabolic hormones, and we all want to find natural ways to boost it.
One of the reasons zinc is popular among the muscle crowd is that researchers are beginning to identify a correlation between the element and testosterone.
In 2011, for example, a study out of Iran found that cyclists who consumed a zinc supplement had higher blood testosterone levels after exercise than those who took selenium.
In another 2011 study, South Korean scientists found that normal testosterone levels are associated with high zinc levels, while a deficiency in zinc tends to lower testosterone. The 88 subjects ranged in age from 40-60.
While results like these don’t point to zinc as a “steroid replacement,” they are strong enough to suggest that you should make sure you’re getting at least your RDA of zinc.
What Else Can Zinc Do for You?
A boost in testosterone would obviously help you build more muscle, but zinc offers other benefits that can add more mass to your frame. Among these are:
Immunity Boost: You won’t get anywhere with your bodybuilding efforts if you’re sick all the time. Zinc supports a healthy immune system and can keep you in the gym on a regular basis.
Antioxidant Effect: Hard and heavy training causes a lot of muscle damage and floods your body with free radicals. Zinc has powerful antioxidant powers and can protect your body by neutralizing those bad characters.
Improved Brain Function: Zinc is important in the function of neurotransmitters and also helps remove heavy metals from your blood stream, preventing them from lodging in your brain. A healthy brain leads to a clear, focused mind that allows you to power through your workouts.
Enhanced Energy: Zinc plays an important role in the regulation of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which boosts drive and gives you an uptick in energy.
Better Insulin Sensitivity: Zinc has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which makes it a potential treatment for diabetics. For bodybuilders, that means zinc can help shuttle more nutrients to your muscles.
All of these benefits make zinc an important part of your muscle-building strategy and also part of any healthy diet.
There is probably little need to take massive amounts of zinc, though, as there is no evidence that doing so will make you bigger or stronger. It’s also possible to overdose, and side effects can include a compromised immune system.
Make sure you’re getting enough zinc everyday, but don’t overdo it, and you’ll put yourself in position for good health and bigger muscles.