Zinc: The Black Man's Mineral
Zinc is one of our most important nutrients and is critical for good prostate health in Black men. The prostate needs 10 times more zinc than any other organ in the body, and its inclusion in the African-American diet is essential for good health. Zinc is vital for preventing prolonged prostate problems, and is also essential for BPH sufferers.
Unfortunately, 90% of African-American men consume diets deficient in zinc, since most of it is lost during food processing, or never exists in a substantial amount due to our nutrient-poor soils. Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food, but most Americans receive the bulk of their zinc from red meat and poultry. Other good food sources include nuts, beans, some seafood, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products.
The immune system is adversely affected by certain degrees of zinc deficiency. Severe zinc deficiency depresses key components of any well-functioning immune system and may stifle the development and activation of T-lymphocytes, the white blood cells that help fight infection.
Irving Bush and Associates at Chicago's Cook County Hospital, tested the effect of zinc on patients with BPH symptoms. All patients reported symptomatic improvements, and 75% had palpable shrinkage of the prostate. Zinc not only inhibits the production of 5-alpha-reductase (there by reducing the levels of dihydrotestosterone), but it also helps the body excrete excess dihydrotestosterone. Zinc has been shown, in several controlled studies, to actually reverse prostate enlargement.
However, zinc is poorly absorbed by the body on its own. Unless it is combined with Vitamin B6, zinc cannot be converted into a form that is readily used by the prostate. Therefore, any therapy using zinc supplementation must also include adequate intake of Vitamin B6. When men reach their 40's, prolactin levels tend to increase, which in turn encourages the production of more 5-alpha-reductase. As we have already established, this enzyme increases the amount of testosterone that is converted to dihydrotestosterone, resulting in an enlarged prostate.
Scientists believe that zinc is the natural modulator of prolactin secretion by the pituitary gland. In fact, the combination of zinc and Vitamin B6 is so effective in reducing prolactin levels that many researchers believe a deficiency in either one might be a main cause of prostate enlargement.