Zinc: The Unsung Hero of the Brain



Zinc is natural metal element that serves as a life-sustaining micronutrient in the human body. Zinc is easily one of the most underrated dietary minerals in the world – it’s an unsung hero, a dark horse of the brain that is vastly underappreciated. It is required by many countless animal and plant species for biological function and is the second most abundant trace metal elements in the human body.

Zinc’s Role in Brain Health and Mental Activity

Zinc covers a wide range of biological roles and is particularly important regulating brain health. It’s absolutely essential for the developing brain, and for ensuring proper cognitive faculties including attention, reasoning, and short term memory.1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/272916514https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/917683415https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2097230216https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/895126520https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3035902/21https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3362702/

In the brain, zinc acts as a modulator of many different neurological functions. It is critical for regulating neuronal activity and synaptic plasticity1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/256599703https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1962353122https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19026685, and consequently in learning and memory as well.  Zinc is also required to maintain optimal levels of BDNF production8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2462106517https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1978471020https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3035902/, which is a protein in the brain used for cellular maintenance and growth.27https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022308/

Zinc also acts as a glutamate modulator, primarily in the cerebral cortex and limbic system3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19623531, which suggests that it’s critical for normal cognitive and emotional functioning. One study found that zinc deficiency led to NMDA receptor upregulation7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25290638, which is primary binding site for glutamate. By upregulating the receptor site, this can lead to excessive levels of glutamate, which in turn can cause a whole host of mental dysfunctions. Zinc is also important for neuroprotection and modulating apoptosis (programmed cell death).17https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1978471018https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2342007819https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145991


Mood and Behavioral Regulation

One rat study linked zinc defiency to despair and behavioral problems which was attenuated upon supplementation.7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25290638

Zinc is not just for cognitive function, various studies have found that supplementation can improve various measures of mood and wellbeing quite significantly.1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/256599705https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/235675178https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2462106524https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2068941625https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2008737628https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2954453/22https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22465904


Sexual Health

One of the more well-known benefits of zinc is its ability to raise testosterone levels. It can enhance sperm function and growth29https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017327/30https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10916226, and is found in high levels in the testes and prostate31https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8033970, fufilling a vital role in producing testosterone, and zinc has even been shown to improve testicular health.31https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23406764

In some men it has been shown to directly raise testosterone levels.9https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/727136510https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20446777



Zinc also can promote and maintain optimal inflammatory responses in the body.11https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2103530912https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18279033 A Cochrane review found that zinc supplementation may be able to improve and maintain eye health over the long-term.6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28756618


Zinc’s Role in Sleep

Interestingly, new data has shown that zinc also acts as a sleep modulator. Recent research has concluded that supplemented zinc increases the amount and quality of sleep in mice and humans.2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29113075


Where to Buy Zinc


Buy Zinc Capsules at Nootropics Depot [Vendor Info]


Zinc Dosage Information

Typical zinc doses range from 10-20mg per day, with 25-30mg being the daily upper limit. Consuming more than 30mg a day can cause copper deficiencies, leading to adverse neurological effects.




1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25659970

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29113075

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19623531

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19026685

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23567517

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28756618

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25290638

8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24621065

9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7271365

10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20446777

11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21035309

12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18279033

13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2729165

14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9176834

15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20972302

16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8951265

17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19784710

18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23420078

19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145991

20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3035902

21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3362702/

22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22465904

23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4517817/

24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20689416

25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20087376

26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2954453/

27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022308/

28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017327/

29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10916226

30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8033970

31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23406764



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