Want a simple solution for period and hormone problems? Consider the humble mineral zinc.
According to a 2020 paper called The Role of Zinc in Selected Female Reproductive System Disorders, zinc might be an effective treatment for many women’s health conditions, including PCOS, period pain, endometriosis, and the vaginal dryness of menopause.
Zinc for women’s health
- Period pain. According to several clinical trials (including one from 2023), zinc can significantly reduce period pain. It works by reducing inflammation and prostaglandins and is also an important part of immune-modulating treatment for endometriosis.
- Irregular periods. Zinc helps to regulate the menstrual cycle by nourishing healthy ovarian follicles and promoting ovulation.
- Premenstrual mood symptoms. According to a 2022 randomized clinical trial, zinc supplementation can improve PMS.
- PCOS. Zinc is one of several natural androgen blockers that can reduce testosterone and improve androgen symptoms such as acne and hirsutism (facial hair). It works by inhibiting 5α-reductase and thus decreasing the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
- Endometriosis. Zinc deficiency may play a role in endometriosis, and zinc supplementation can reduce the inflammation of endometriosis, in part by reducing matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs).
- Acne. Zinc is an effective treatment for acne and works by blocking androgens, killing bacteria, and slowing the production of sebum and keratin.
- Perimenopause and menopause. Zinc helps to maintain collagen and tissue health and can relieve the vaginal dryness of menopause.
- Thyroid disease. Along with iodine and selenium, zinc is essential for the synthesis and activation of thyroid hormone and can prevent the hair loss associated with thyroid disease. There’s a bidirectional relationship in that zinc promotes thyroid hormone and thyroid hormone improves the absorption of zinc.
- Mood. Zinc supports the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that dials down cortisol and the stress response.
Zinc absorption can be impaired by alcohol, stomach medication, hypothyroidism, and hormonal birth control.
Symptoms of deficiency include:
- hair loss
- impaired immune function
- white spots on the fingernails.
The test for zinc deficiency is plasma zinc with a normal reference range of 11-23 umol/L or 70-150 ug/dL).
Dose and safety
A safe and effective dose of zinc is 30 mg per day. The best types include zinc citrate, zinc picolinate, or zinc bisgylcinate, and should be taken directly after a large meal. Zinc on an empty stomach can cause nausea. Taking more than 80 mg of zinc for more than three months can deplete copper.