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Oyster Extract: Benefits & Side Effects (2019)

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What is Oyster Extract?

Oyster extract is made from the meat of oysters, which are mollusks that live in marine habitats. They can be eaten raw or cooked (the oysters that make pearls are not the same as the edible ones).

People have been eating oysters for thousands of years. Many oysters are harvested from waters that contain pollutants. After they’re harvested, the oysters are placed in clean water tanks to purge the bacteria and other contaminants in a process known as depuration. Most bivalves, including clams and oysters, go through this process to make them safe for us to eat.

After depuration is complete, the oysters are dried and then ground into a powder for the extract.

Oyster Benefits

Since the extract is made from the shellfish itself, you get oyster nutrition from it without the expense of whole oysters. Some people also have difficulty eating whole oysters due to the unusual texture, which is both firm and slippery.

However, oysters contain some minerals necessary for human bodies to function optimally, such as zinc, iron, selenium and calcium (the oyster shell is particularly rich in calcium as well). Oyster meat is also a good source of protein and vitamins A, C, D and B12. It contains amino acids such as taurine that are vital for good health and provides omega-3 fats.

Zinc is a metal, and is often combined with other metals to create alloys such as brass. People need a small amount of this metal for their bodies to function well. One of the best food sources for zinc is found in oysters, and it’s easy for the human body to absorb from these shellfish.

Sexual Health

Oysters have long been considered an aphrodisiac, and for good reason. These bivalves are important sources for nutrients such as zinc that human bodies, especially male ones, need.

Zinc is a crucial element in the making of testosterone, which is a key ingredient to sexual and reproductive health in men. This hormone also regulates a man’s sex drive, or libido. Sexual stimulation and activity increase testosterone, and a lack of such activity can reduce it.

Because it’s so important to the production of testosterone, zinc deficiency is also a key player in men’s sexual health problems, such as erectile dysfunction. Having enough zinc in the body can help maintain sexual health.

Increasing levels of this mineral, easily done through oyster extract, can counteract these problems and increase libido in men (x, x).

Testosterone

Testosterone is the main sex hormone for men. Women produce some as well, but at a much lower rate than men. It’s also a steroid and helps develop male reproductive organs such as the prostate and testes.

In addition, testosterone bulks up muscle tissue, bone mass and helps produce body hair. Men also have the added benefit of increased fat burning with their higher levels of the hormone.

Two minerals are important in the body’s production of testosterone. The journal Nutrition notes that zinc plays a big role, as does vitamin D (x). It provides a boost to the mechanisms used in the making of the hormone. Zinc deficiency can lead to testosterone deficiency.

Low levels of the hormone can also result in weight gain and depression, not to mention a lack of energy. Men with low testosterone may have brittle bones as well. Production of testosterone tends to decrease as men age, so supplementation may be necessary later in life.

Reduced levels of testosterone can also lead to poor sperm quality and low sperm count. Supplementing with oyster extract can help a man get enough zinc to boost hormone production (x).

Oyster extract is a palatable way for men to add zinc to their diets without the expense of edible oysters.

Immunity

Oyster shell extract can also help reduce inflammation in the body, according to the journal Preventive Nutrition and Food Science (x). This result of oxidative stress results in symptoms such as joint irritation and erosion of joint cartilage in arthritis.

In addition, whole-body inflammation can lead to diseases like heart disease and cancer. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are also associated with this type of stress. Being able to reduce or eliminate this condition can improve your immunity from disease.

The human immune system also depends on selenium for good function (x). It can fight stress caused by oxidants in the body and even protect against some cancers (x). Oyster extract supports the production and activity of “natural killer” cells that slow down tumor growth (x).

Oyster benefits include other antioxidants such as vitamin C, which also help to reduce inflammation. They are particularly rich in glutathione, which is involved in producing chemicals and proteins in the body. This antioxidant supports tissue repair as well as the immune system. It is made naturally in our livers. However, taking oyster extract can increase its levels in the body.

In addition to its antioxidant properties, zinc is key to the proper operation of the thymus gland. The organ is responsible for unleashing our immune system’s production of T-cells. These helper cells attack foreign invaders in the body.

Eye Health

Oyster nutrition provides positive effects for eyesight, especially for the aging eye. Zinc and vitamin C, among other antioxidants, help slow down AMD, or age-related macular degeneration (x). AMD is one of the two leading causes, along with cataracts, of the loss of sight in older adults.

Taurine is found in abundance in the retina, so it supports eye health as well by reducing inflammation and oxidant activity. Omega-3 fats are a major building block for the retina too.

These fats are also helpful in protecting against AMD, as well as dry eye syndrome.

Aging

Many of the substances in oysters and oyster extract assist in staying healthy as you get older. Omega-3 fats help reduce the probability of contracting Alzheimer’s disease (x).

Increasing zinc can help older adults fight off disease by bolstering their immune systems. It plays a big role in supporting healthy aging (x).

Zinc is also a necessary component in the very building blocks of life while in the womb. Once you’re old enough to decide on your own supplements, it’s a bit too late for the building blocks! But you can still help your body to age well by increasing zinc intake, especially from oyster extract.

Other Benefits

Skin Health

Due to its bountiful amounts of zinc, oyster extract helps with conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, zinc is a key component in wound healing as well (x). The metal helps skin boost elastin, which helps skin stretch.

Both zinc and Vitamin C also support the production of collagen, which increases skin’s strength.

Muscle Repair

Zinc is crucial for muscle repair and recovery, both important issues in bodybuilding (x). The amino acid taurine reduces lactic acid buildup, so people can work out longer without feeling tired or achy. Oyster extract can assist bodybuilders, but all people need to maintain (or build) muscle as they age.

Helps Produce Dopamine

In addition, zinc supports one of the fundamental ingredients for mental health — dopamine. As a neurotransmitter, dopamine enables the mind and muscle to work together, increasing the benefits that occur from weightlifting.

Not only is dopamine important for muscle building benefits, but it can also counteract depression. Oyster extract has shown promise in treating depression, per Trace Nutrients Research (x). Omega-3 fats reduce depression (x).

Heart Health

A healthy heart needs zinc too. The Journal of Nutrition shows that it helps reduce stress on the heart from oxidants (x). Selenium’s antioxidant properties also protect the heart (x). Oyster extract, with its abundance of both minerals, can be a good supplement to take for your heart.

Fights Anemia

Oyster extract includes a good amount of iron, which protects against anemia. It carries oxygen to muscles as well as the brain, so low iron often results in sluggishness and a lack of stamina. It also helps keep hair, skin and nails healthy and strong (x).

Source of Calcium and Taurine

Calcium, another oyster benefit, is a key component for healthy bones. Human hearts, nerves and muscles also require calcium to function at their best. Omega-3 fats help the body absorb more calcium (x).

One of the amino acids found in oysters, taurine, is helpful for bone growth as well as other bodily functions (x). Taurine is used throughout the body and is abundant in heart and nerve cells.

Because it lowers blood pressure and thickening of the arteries, taurine is essential for healthy hearts.

Taurine levels tend to decrease with age, so supplementing becomes even more important for older adults. Oyster extract provides a way to increase this key component of overall health.

Oyster benefits infographic


Oyster Side Effects

Given that oysters are shellfish, anyone with a shellfish allergy should avoid oyster extract as well. The protein in oysters, tropomyosin, triggers the allergic reaction for those sensitive to it.

The high levels of zinc in oysters sometimes cause gastrointestinal effects, such as cramps, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as stomach pain. Once zinc levels in the body return to normal, these symptoms will go away.

Constipation is a frequent side effect of both iron and vitamin C consumption, so you might experience it with oysters and oyster extract (x).

Oyster Extract Dosage

Oyster extract dosage is 500 milligrams up to three times a day (500 milligrams is roughly equal to a scant ¼ teaspoon). If your health professional suggests a different dosage, though, it is best to follow their instructions.

Why Take Oyster Extract

Maintaining enough zinc in the body is very important not only for men’s sexual and reproductive health, but also for overall heart health and a functioning immune system. Oysters are particularly rich in zinc, and it’s in a form that the human body can easily absorb.

In addition to zinc, oysters contain a number of important nutrients and antioxidants that are beneficial to human health, such as selenium, protein, calcium, taurine, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids and iron.

Eating whole oysters may be too difficult and/or expensive. Oyster extract is an excellent way to supplement the zinc in your body.

The Bottom Line

Keep your body robust by making sure you’re getting enough zinc, even throughout your old age. This mineral has many roles to play, especially in men’s health and sexuality. However, women need zinc too, even though they require much less testosterone than men.

Adequate amounts of testosterone are necessary for mental and muscular health. The human heart and immune system require the nutrients found in oysters to function optimally.

Oyster extract is an excellent way to provide the minerals and antioxidants present in oysters into your diet. Certainly you can ingest a lot more extract and oyster nutrition than actual oysters for the same price.

Oyster extract has limited side effects, though anyone with a shellfish allergy should avoid it.

About the author

Ryan Quigley

Graduate of Longwood University in Virginia. Part-time sports journalist covering the Vegas Golden Knights.


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