Libido, the sensation of being aroused, is the primitive biological urge, which is a fundamental aspect for the survival of the human race. Ok, libido might not be essential for the human race to go on, however, suffering from low libido may cause a great deal of concern for men. From a clinical perspective, low libido may be contributed to either a single or combination of factors. These may include stress, depression, mental health/wellbeing, low testosterone, inadequate nutrition and medications such as antidepressants. A joint effort between your GP and a Nutritionist/Naturopath should be utilised to determine the particular aspect, which is causing your low libido.
It’s been estimated that 4 out of 10 men over the age of 45 have low testosterone, which is mostly undiagnosed. Testosterone is the major sex hormone in men and is responsible for male characteristics. These include deepening of voice, height, muscle mass and facial hair. Furthermore, testosterone plays a role in boosting self-esteem and motivation, increasing energy levels and supports sleep.
Zinc is an essential mineral for all humans, especially men. It has been estimated that 47% of the population are at risk of zinc deficiency. The recommended dietary intake for men is 14mg daily, almost twice what women require (8mg daily). Why? Zinc is required for the synthesis of testosterone. Another factor behind men requiring more zinc is because each ejaculation results in approximately 2.5mg of zinc being lost.
The highest concentration of zinc in the male’s body is found within the testes and prostate. This is because zinc is required for sperm production and more importantly testosterone synthesis. With inadequate zinc the body is unable to synthesis testosterone, resulting in low libido. As mentioned earlier, testosterone levels are a fundamental aspect of male libido.
Zinc is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions within the human body. To list every biochemical reaction zinc is involved in would be a mammoth task and would require an entire book. Some of the most noteworthy functions of zinc include its role in the production of hydrochloric acid and other gastric secretions, metabolising alcohol, immune cell development, synthesis of testosterone, wound healing, antioxidant ability, secretion of insulin and the production of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine etc.). Understanding some of the functions of zinc will help explain the clinical symptoms of low zinc.
Clinical symptoms of low zinc: Digestive issues such as bloating in the upper portion of the abdomen and reflux/heartburn, weakened immune system resulting in frequent cold/flu, neurological involvement such as depression, anxiety and poor sleep, impaired sense of smell and taste, white spots on nails, poor skin health including acne and pale completion.
Zinc rich foods (per 100g): Oysters (78mg), lamb (12mg), pumpkin seeds/pepitas (10mg), cocoa powder (6mg), cashews (5mg), chickpeas (1.5mg) and mushrooms (1mg).
Supplementation of 12-30mg of zinc may benefit individuals with clinically low zinc to boost total zinc status. Alternatively, high-dose zinc supplementation inhibits aromatase, the enzyme responsible for the conversion of testosterone to oestrogen, and thereby allowing more testosterone to be available. Correct testosterone levels = increase libido!
Other ways to naturally increase libido in men
- Cut back on the alcohol. When alcohol is being consumed every day a nice way to reduce consumption could be to only drink on weekends and hump day (midweek). If the desire to bring back the libido is high enough, eliminating alcohol consumption all together may be warranted.
- Regular exercises such as yoga and brisk walks 3 times a week.
- Quit smoking cigarettes and marijuana.
- Manage stress through meditation or breathing and get 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Include avocados, figs or bananas in the diet everyday.
- The Peruvian super food Maca has an aphrodisiac like action and is able to modulate hormones. Simply adding 1 teaspoon of Maca to breakfast supports libido.
- Switch current chocolate to an organic dark (70% or more) chocolate with no sugar. Chocolate made from cocoa contains phenylethylamine, which support the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for arousal, mood and the feelings of pleasure.
- Ayurvedic herbs such as Ashwagandha (Withainia), Tribulus and Shilajit may also support low libido in men.
It is always advised to speak
with a qualified Nutritionist or Naturopath before any supplements are taken or
major diet changes are implemented.