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Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Jul;56(1):148-57.

Effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology in young men.

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United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, ND 58202.


Identification of the andrological variables most sensitive to zinc depletion would expedite the diagnosis of male reproductive pathology induced by zinc deficiency. Eleven volunteers living on a metabolic ward were fed a diet composed of a mixture of a semisynthetic formula and conventional foods supplemented with ZnSO4 to supply a total of 1.4, 2.5, 3.4, 4.4, or 10.4 mg Zn/d. After an equilibration period of 28 d (10.4 mg Zn/d), all treatments were presented for 35 d each, the first four in random order and the fifth last. Compared with when they were consuming 10.4 mg Zn/d, volunteers consuming 1.4 mg Zn/d exhibited decreased semen volumes (3.30 vs 2.24 mL) and serum testosterone concentrations (26.9 vs 21.9 nmol/L), and no change in seminal zinc concentrations. Compared with 10.4 mg Zn/d, treatments of 1.4, 2.5, and 3.4 mg Zn/d decreased the total semen zinc loss per ejaculate (6.29 vs 3.81, 4.68, and 5.03 mumols/ejaculate). Seminal loss accounted for 9% of total body zinc loss when 1.4 mg Zn/d was consumed. Seminal phosphorus concentrations were elevated during all four phases of zinc depletion (28.4 vs 32.9, 31.0, 34.2, and 33.6 mmol/L). The findings suggest that serum testosterone concentrations, seminal volume, and total seminal zinc loss per ejaculate are sensitive to short-term zinc depletion in young men.

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