Does zinc make you hornier? Top libido booster foods

Zinc is an essential mineral for sex hormone production, which is involved in sexual function.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that zinc deficiency affects 31% of the population, with the prevalence rates ranging from 4 to 73 % in various regions of the world population (R). It has been estimated that 30–40% of elderly subjects have mild/marginal to modest zinc deficiency in the United States (R).

From working with a lot of people, most people under-consume zinc. The main reason is that they’re too afraid of meat or simply don’t know the importance thereof.

To determine if zinc affects sexual arousal, let’s first look at what influences libido and then how zinc influences those markers.

What I’ll be covering

What boosts libido and how zinc affects it


  • Testosterone
  • DHT
  • Estrogen
  • Thyroid hormone


  • Dopamine
  • Noradrenaline
  • Oxytocin
  • Histamine
  • Glutamate
  • α-MSH

Now let’s look at how zinc affects all of these.

Zinc and testosterone

Zinc intake is significantly correlated with total and free testosterone and DHT hormone levels. (RRR) And low zinc leads to low testosterone levels.

A few ways how zinc increases testosterone are by:

  • Increasing the enzyme, 17 β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD), which converts androstenedione to testosterone. (R)
  • Increasing undercarboxylated osteocalcin, which is the hormonally active form, stimulates testosterone synthesis. (A)
  • Inhibiting excess aromatase.
  • Lowering excess prolactin.
  • Lowering oxidative stress and inflammation
  • Increasing androgen receptors (this just potentiates the effect of testosterone).

Eating a low-zinc diet can significantly tank your testosterone.

In this experimental diet, they put 22 adult men (medical students, laboratory personnel, house staff, and staff physicians working in the Detroit Medical Center, Wayne State University) between the ages of 20 and 50 ) on a zinc-deficient diet for 24 weeks (R).

The average daily zinc content of the hospital diet before doing the zinc-deficient diet was 12.5mg. Not a whole lot. But even with only 12.5mg, the average testosterone was 1150ng/dl!

That’s quite remarkable since they worked in a hospital, which is demanding, can be stressful and has a severe lack of sunlight. But I digress.

They were put on a semipurified diet based on texturized soy products with added vitamins and minerals, except zinc. The daily zinc mineral intake on the low zinc diet was between 4.2-5.6mg.

Over 24 weeks, their testosterone went from 1150ng/dl (39.9nmol/L) to 305ng/dl (10.6nmol/L). That’s roughly an x4 drop.

Supplementing zinc can double your testosterone

In another experiment of the same study as above, they took men between the ages of 50 and 80 and gave them 30 mg zinc gluconate daily for 6 months (R). The average daily dietary zinc intake was a measly 69% of the RDA. Since the RDA for zinc is 11mg, that would mean they were consuming only 7.6 mg of zinc daily.

Over the 6 months, their testosterone doubled from 240ng/dl to 460ng/dl, putting them in the normal range (R).

Zinc on DHT

Most people think that zinc supplementation will lower DHT, because it might inhibit 5-alpha reductase.

However, zinc supplementation (120mg twice daily) significantly increased DHT (19%), and also slightly increased testosterone (8%) in eugonadal men (490 to 750ng/dl), showing upregulation of 5 alpha-reductase even at a very high dose zinc. (R)

Additionally, a zinc deficiency results in significant (R):

  • Fewer androgen bindings to the androgen receptors and
  • Less DHT conversion from testosterone (lower 5 alpha reductase). Zn-finger proteins are involved in the genetic expression of various growth factors and steroid receptors. (R)

Low zinc in the body leads to:

  • Low testosterone
  • High estrogen
  • Very low testosterone-to-estrogen ratio
  • Low DHT
  • High 3alpha-diol (weak DHT metabolite) and
  • An awful DHT to 3 alpha-diol ratio.

👉 40+ ways to increase DHT

Zinc on estradiol

Estradiol and DHT seem to play a role in libido, but too much estradiol can cause sexual dysfunction.

It’s been shown, that rats that are deficient in zinc have significantly:

  • more estradiol (indicating high aromatase activity) and
  • Increased estrogen receptors (R).
  • Increases estrogen sensitivity. Supplemental zinc reverses the sensitivity. (R)

If you are deficient in zinc, aromatase will be increased and you’ll be more sensitive to estrogen. Consuming enough zinc will help control estradiol levels.

👉 31 supplements to inhibit aromatase

Zinc on dopamine

Dopamine plays a big role in libido and sexual function. Dopaminergic drugs are commonly used to boost libido in hypo-sexual individuals.

Zinc has been shown to (RRRR):

  • Increase dopamine receptors.
  • Increase extracellular dopamine.
  • Inhibits dopamine uptake by neurons.

All of which will strengthen the effects of dopamine.

👉 The complete guide on how to increase dopamine

Zinc on noradrenaline

Noradrenaline is created from dopamine and has similar libido-boosting effects as dopamine.

Having libido is being in a state of arousal, in which noradrenaline dominates. If you can’t become aroused, you’re very unlikely to have libido.

Low zinc leads to low noradrenaline in the brain and restoring zinc levels, restore noradrenaline levels (R).

Additionally, zinc inhibits α1A-adrenoceptor and activates the β2-adrenoreceptor. This means that it promotes the relaxation of the penis (which helps with erections and against premature ejaculation), while boosting energy levels and libido.

Zinc on oxytocin

Oxytocin is involved in libido and hypersexual individuals tend to have higher oxytocin than those with lower libido.

Zinc “activates” oxytocin. Zinc directly binds to oxytocin, which increases the affinity of oxytocin for its receptor (R).

Zinc on histamine

Histamine can both lower and increase libido.

Excess histamine in the case of allergic reactions (where mast cells degranulate to release histamine, serotonin and other inflammatory mediators) can lower libido. Anti-inflammatory diets and supplements can help to boost sexual desire and arousal function.

Zinc inhibits mast degranulation, thus reducing excess histamine, serotonin and inflammatory mediator release and lowering inflammation (R, R).

On the flip side, histamine can also promote libido. Dr. Pfeiffer found that a common symptom of histadelia (people with high histamine) is hypersexuality.

Histamine acts in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VHM) to modulate sexual behavior. The H2 antagonists, such as cimetidine and ranitidine, have been shown to cause loss of libido and erectile failure (R).

Copper promotes histamine breakdown, thus consuming enough zinc can help to balance out the copper and increase histamine to healthy levels needed for libido.

Zinc on glutamate

Glutamate is involved in sexual behavior as it stimulates sexual libido and even testosterone production (R).

Glutamate acts on the NMDA receptor complex and the AMPA and kainate receptors.

Ketamine, an NMDA receptor antagonist, often times promote libido. It might be because NMDA antagonism increases dopamine (R).

Zinc is also an NMDA antagonist, but increases the response of the AMPA and kainate receptors, which has strong anti-depressant effects.

Topiramate which blocks the AMPA and kainate receptors reduce glutamate release and reduce mating frequency (a marker of libido) (R).

Additionally, a zinc deficiency promotes glutamate breakdown (R) and adequate zinc prevents its re-uptake (R).

In summary, zinc increases libido by affecting glutamate in the following ways. Zinc:

  • Reduces glutamate breakdown
  • Reduces glutamates’ uptake
  • Increases the response of the AMPA and kainate receptors
  • Increases dopamine via NMDA antagonism

Zinc on thyroid hormone production

zinc improves thyroid function

In hypothyroid (a thyroid dysfunction) men, the prevalence of hypo-sexual disorder is 64.3% (R). Meaning, more than 60% of men with low T3 didn’t think or wanted sex in the last 6 months.

Hypothyroid men have lower levels of total and free testosterone and especially DHT.

Zinc supplementation boosts the metabolic rate by increasing thyroid function. It does so by increasing thyroid hormone production and T4 to T3 conversion. Zinc supplementation increases total T4 and T3 and also free T3. (RR)

Zinc on α-MSH

α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) is a peptide produced from POMC, which is released from the pituitary and hypothalamus. α-MSH acts on the melanocortin receptors, which promote libido.

The most common libido-boosting peptides Melanotan 2 and PT-141 are also agonists of the melanocortin receptors.


  • Is involved in α-MSH release (R)
  • Is a direct melanocortin 1 (MC1) and 4 (MC4) receptor agonist
  • Potentiates the action of other melanocortin agonists such as α-MSH
  • Inhibits the binding of melanocortin antagonists (R).

What lowers libido and how zinc affects it

  • GABA
  • Glutamate antagonism
  • Histamine antagonism
  • Serotonin
  • Prolactin
  • Stress/cortisol
  • 5AR inhibitors (e.g. finasteride)
  • Sleep loss
  • Opioids
  • Inflammation

Zinc on GABA

GABA is inhibitory and balances out excitatory neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline, glutamate, etc.

Too little GABA activation can lead to overstimulation, sexual anxiety, premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Too much GABA activation will likely kill libido since GABA agonists reduce libido and enhance sexual satiety.

Zinc enhances GABA release, but inhibits the GABA-A receptor (R, R, R). So it seems that zinc has a GABA-balancing effect.

Zinc on serotonin

Too much serotonin will crush libido and cause sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, and anorgasmia (no pleasure during orgasm). Sexual dysfunction is one of the most common side effects of SSRI anti-depressants.

Zinc lowers excess serotonin by:

  • Enhancing serotonin uptake (R). 
  • Activating the 5-HT1A receptor. (R) Activation of the 5-HT1A receptor inhibits serotonin production.
  • Increasing the density of the 5-HT1A receptor in the hippocampal and cortical areas of the brain (R).
  • Inhibiting mast cell degranulation (mast cells release serotonin).

Flibanserin, a 5-HT1A agonist and 2A antagonist which decreases serotonin levels and increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels, is used to treat general hypo-sexual disorder (R).

👉Guide on how to lower serotonin

Zinc on inflammation

Inflammation kills libido and an anti-inflammatory diet and supplements can help to increase libido.

Zinc lowers inflammation by inhibiting COX-2 and prostaglandin production (similar to aspirin and NSAIDs) and deactivating free radicals (R).

Zinc on cortisol/stress

Stress and high cortisol kill libido by causing dopamine and glutamate desensitization, increasing estradiol and lowering testosterone.

Zinc administration at doses between 25-50mg acutely inhibits cortisol secretion (R).

A zinc-deficient diet leads to high levels of cortisol due to hyperactivity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis (R).

👉How to lower cortisol

Zinc on sleep

Zinc improves sleep

Poor sleep quality can dramatically reduce libido and contribute to erectile dysfunction.

There is sparse research on zinc and sleep, but according to this study, the highest concentration of serum zinc was found in subjects sleeping a “normal” amount of 7 to 9 h per night, compared to short (<7 h) and long (>9 h) sleepers. (R)

Additionally, oysters improve sleep quality (R).

Zinc on prolactin

High prolactin can contribute to low libido. Zinc helps to lower prolactin (R).

Men with kidney dysfunction waste out more zinc and this leads to low zinc and high prolactin (R).

Consuming ample zinc via diet will help to control prolactin, especially post-ejaculation.

👉 Complete guide on how to lower prolactin


Our bodies produce a normal amount of opioids (e.g. beta-endorphin), which makes us feel good. However, during stress, lots of beta-endorphin is also released, and that starts to lower testosterone and blunt libido.

Zinc reduces mu opioid receptor binding, which reduces the potency of endogenous opioids (R). Zinc also blunts stress hyper-reactivity, thus reducing the amount of opioids released in the first place.

How zinc affects libido

Zinc affects libido in almost all possible mechanisms, as discussed above. Low zinc is very likely to contribute to low libido.

When it comes to supplementation, it’s important to use the right dose.

In this study, rats were given 1, 5 and 10mg/day of zinc. The rats supplemented with 1 mg/day did not show a boosting libido or sexual function, whereas the 10 mg/day experienced a reduction in libido (R).

This might be because too much supplemental zinc can lower dopamine, which leads to an increase in prolactin (R).

I don’t recommend supplementing zinc for most people as getting it from food is by far the best option.

Top 2 zinc-rich foods for libido

#1 Oysters

It’s not for nothing that oysters have been used as an aphrodisiac food for thousands of years. Oysters are the richest source of zinc and contain peptides that inhibit inflammation, and excess aromatase, stimulate testosterone production, act as an adaptogen and much more.

In these graphs, you can see how oyster peptides (HEOP on the graph) prevent the drop in testosterone in stressed animals.

In this graph, you can see how oyster peptides (HEOP on the graph) prevent the drop in testicular androgen receptors during stress.

In this graph, you can see which steroidogenic enzymes oyster peptides (HEOP on the graph) stimulate.

When I don’t eat a lot of meat, I’d have a can of oysters (3oz) every other day. That will give you more than enough zinc.

🦪Testosterone-boosting adaptogen Oysters video🦪

#2 Red meat (beef, lamb, bison, etc.)

According to the Orthodox Christians, meat is recognized as the fattiest of all foods activating human passions, namely the passion of prostitution characterized by any act of sexual instinct, whose main and sole purpose is pleasure (pathological use of sexuality or sexual instinct or libido) (R).

Eating 400-500g (1lbs) of red meat per day will definitely have a powerful effect on your libido.

Suboptimal sources of zinc

  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Eggs

1L milk

3 whole eggs

100g chicken breast

100g tuna

As you can see, you’ll have to eat A LOT of these foods to get enough zinc.

Worse sources of zinc

  • Pumpkin seeds – it contains polyunsaturated fat and plant cholesterol (beta-sitosterol) that inhibit the production of DHT.
  • Hemp Seeds, sunflower seeds and all other seeds
  • Chickpeas and all other kinds of beans
  • Black ant extract
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • All other foods that aren’t oysters and meat.


Yes, zinc plays a crucial role in boosting libido, erectile function and sexual activity.

When I consume more zinc-rich foods, I become horny AF, I feel calmer, my flaccid hang is better, I feel more energetic, androgenic, etc. Just better.


  • Boosts eNOS and promotes blood flow – my flaccid hang is always better with a high zinc diet.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Improve blood circulation.
  • Increase low sex drive.
  • Promotes the production of testosterone.
  • Increases the androgen receptors.
  • Prevents hair loss (even though it increases DHT) (R, R).
  • Helps give an energy boost.
  • Helps you gain muscle mass.
  • Helps with weight loss (by increasing energy, balancing blood sugar, reducing hunger, etc.).
  • Increases dopamine and noradrenaline.
  • Potentiates the oxytocin and melanocortin pathways.
  • Lowers excess estrogen, serotonin, prolactin, cortisol and inflammation.

I prefer zinc-rich food over zinc supplements, as food is by far the best way to consume it. Food has many more health benefits than just 1 isolated supplement. There are many other important minerals, vitamins (vitamin B, vitamin C, etc.), phytonutrients and animal-specific anti-oxidants that you’ll miss out on by not eating the right foods.

🥩 Animal-specific anti-oxidants from meat🥩

However, if someone has a big deficiency and food alone isn’t enough then high doses of zinc can be a lifesaver.

A common cause of low zinc is the regular consumption of alcoholic drinks including red wine and high-phytate foods, such as nuts, seeds, grains, leafy greens, etc.

>1000ng/dl Testosterone: My Step-by-Step Guide on How I Do It Naturally!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: