Did you know that when fertilization occurs in mammals, sparks literally fly? In 2016, scientists were able to capture on camera the burst of light that occurs when the sperm and egg join. This is pretty amazing in and of itself, but just as amazing is the discovery, originally documented in a mouse model in 2011, that “sparks of zinc exploded at the point of conception.” In fact, at the instant when a sperm enters the egg, billions of zinc atoms are released!

“Using a new fluorescent sensor that’s able to track the movements of zinc in live cells, the team caught a glimpse of an egg’s zinc-storage capabilities and found some 8,000 zinc compartments, each one containing around 1 million zinc atoms, just ripe for exploding. The tiny ‘fireworks’ that result were found to last for about 2 hours after fertilization.”

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Why zinc and not some other element?

“The researchers found that eggs compartmentalize and distribute zinc to control the development of a healthy embryo—the mineral plays a vital role in controlling the ‘decision’ the egg makes to grow into an embryo—so the more zinc that’s released, the brighter the flash, and the more viable the egg.”

You can read the full summary and watch video footage of this amazing phenomenon at https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-just-captured-the-actual-flash-of-light-that-sparks-when-sperm-meets-an-egg. Isn’t this remarkable, and memorable? What a stunning example of the importance of optimal nutrition and absorption! And, I can’t help but wonder if this is why humans have traditionally considered oysters, the most zinc-rich food on earth, to be a special food for sexuality and fertility.

Sufficient zinc levels support pregnancy

Zinc is a mineral that protects sperm from oxidative damage and increases sperm motility (movement). If a man’s zinc levels are low, this lessens the chance of conception.

Women need sufficient levels of zinc just as much as men! In fact, stretch marks during pregnancy are partly due to zinc insufficiency. Additionally, if you have ever seen white spots on your nails, you may be low in zinc. For most people, the best way to increase available zinc in the body is to strengthen digestive function, including improvement of stomach acid production, and consume a nutrient-dense diet.


Eat Zinc-Rich Foods!

Food sources of zinc include shellfish (especially oysters), red meat, poultry, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts. Yes, there are good reasons why oysters are traditionally seen as a food associated with sexual and reproductive vitality!

Most foods that are high in zinc are also good sources of copper. It’s important for these two minerals to be in balance with each other.

Consult with your health care practitioner if you are considering supplemental zinc or any dietary supplement.

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Selected references

Zinc and male fertility




Zinc and female fertility and pregnancy