Zinc : Overview, Uses, Research and Benefits
The Essential Trace element- Zinc
What is Zinc?
Zinc is also known as “essential trace element” as it is required in a very small amount for human health. It is a mineral and essential nutrient, which means that it cannot be stored in the body. Thus, it needs to be consumed regularly in the diet. Though zinc is needed in a minute quantity, its deficiency can lead to serious conditions such as short stature, reduced ability to taste the food, and the inability of testes and ovaries to function properly, short stature, reduced ability to taste the food, and the inability of testes, and ovaries to function properly. Hence, zinc is a nutrient that plays a vital role in your body.
This page explains everything you need to know about zinc, including its functions, health benefits, dosage recommendations, research on its benefits, and best supplements with zinc that you can take.
Body processes that require the consumption of Zinc
You must take constant supply of zinc through your diet as it cannot be stored in your body. Zinc is needed for numerous life processes such as:
- Growth and development
- Wound healing
- Immune function
- DNA synthesis
- Protein synthesis
- Expression of Genes
- Enzymatic reactions
Benefits of Zinc
Zinc is known for ages to possess innumerable health benefits. It is involved in many important processes in your body and is absolutely necessary for maintaining good health. There is no organ that is not aided by zinc. It is essential by each and every cell of our body. Let us view its health benefits in detail:
- Reducing inflammation
Oxidative stress leads to chronic inflammation and increased susceptibility to illness related to heart, CNS and respiration. Zinc helps to decrease the oxidative stress and reduces the amount of certain inflammatory proteins in the body.
- Easing cold and flu symptoms
Zinc is known to reduce inflammation naturally. Thus, it might help in easing cold and flu symptoms. Zinc is also added as an ingredient in many syrups and lozenges.
- Boosting the immune system
Zinc helps to boost your immune system. It is necessary for immune cell functioning and cell signaling. Thus, its deficiency can lead to weakened immune system. Zinc supplements can help to enhance the immune cells and reduces oxidative stress. Zinc also helps to improve immune response and reduces the risk of infections in older adults.
- Enhancing cognitive memory
Zinc has a crucial role in regulating how neurons communicate with one another, affecting how memories are formed and how we learn. Thus, it helps to enhance the cognitive memory. Zinc sulfate is known to improve behavior and social abilities in people with memory loss.
- Reducing oxidative stress
Zinc supplements can help to enhance the immune cells and reduces oxidative stress. Zinc also helps to improve immune response and reduces the risk of health issues.
- Healing of wounds
Zinc plays critical roles in collagen synthesis, enhancing immune system and inflammatory response, thus, it is necessary for proper healing. Zinc is commonly used in hospitals to enhance recovery of skin injury, burns and ulcers. On the other hand, zinc deficiency can lead to slow wound healing. This can be corrected by taking zinc supplements.
- Aiding respiratory function
Zinc is known to reduce inflammation naturally and ease out cold and flu symptoms. Thus, it might help in improving respiratory functioning. It is also added as an ingredient in many syrups and lozenges.
- Supporting eye function
Zinc along with antioxidants are known to improve the functioning of the eyes. They might help to reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD (Age related Macular degeneration) and reduce visual acuity loss. Zinc supplements are usually given along with antioxidants to help improve the vision.
- Rejuvenating the skin and reduces acne
Zinc plays a vital in maintaining integrity, function and structure of the skin. It is also fundamental to skin health, DNA synthesis and protein production. Even growth of the body and its development depends upon zinc, as it helps in cell growth and division. It is needed for proper skin healing and to enhance recovery of skin issues and lesions.
Acne is a skin condition caused due to obstruction of oil-producing glands by bacterial or viral infection. Zinc is known to improve skin function, healing as well as reduce the risk of infection. Patients with acne might also have lower levels of zinc. Thus, zinc is one of the ingredients in acne creams or skin cream.
- Addressing diarrhea
Diarrhea is one of the serious health concerns in children that is associated with malnutrition and high mortality rate in children. Deficiency of zinc causes alterations in immune response and may contribute to increased susceptibility to infections, such as those that cause diarrhea, especially in children. Zinc helps to reduce the risk of infections naturally. Chronic diarrhea can also lead to excessive loss of zinc. Hence, zinc supplements in the form of zinc acetate, zinc gluconate, or zinc sulfate are often suggested to accelerate the healing and reduce the nutritional gap.
- Enhancing reproductive health in both men and women
As we know, zinc is essential for cell growth, development and division. Thus, zinc is needed during pregnancy for the growth and development of the fetus. This increases the requirement of zinc during pregnancy and pregnant women are given zinc to ensure they do not go into zinc insufficiency. Zinc is also needed during lactation. Pregnant and lactating women have an increased need for zinc to 11-13 milligrams per day, depending on the age.
Low levels of zinc seem to be linked to lower bone mass. It is therefore suggested to take zinc supplements in combination with calcium, manganese and copper to reduce bone loss especially in menopausal women.
Zinc is equally essential for men in order to maintain optimal functioning of the body. Zinc is also known to improve spermatogenesis in certain cases. It is needed for overall health and well-being of men.
Sources of Zinc:
Major sources of Zinc are beans, oysters, nuts, crab and lobster, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, peanuts, mussels, clam, beef, pork, lamb, bison, turkey, chicken, flounder, sardines, salmon, sole, chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, cashews, hemp seeds, milk, yogurt cheese, eggs, oats, quinoa, brown rice, mushrooms, kale, peas, asparagus, and beet greens.
Interest in Zinc has skyrocketed since the covid 19 pandemic hit as zinc is known for its antiviral properties. Terms such as Zinc coronavirus are being searched globally by people looking to boost immunity. People are looking for zinc lozenges and tablets and their sale has rightfully gone up. One must be careful not to cross the recommended daily dose of zinc which is 11 mg/day and 8 mg/day for adult men and women respectively.
Supplements contain several forms of zinc, including zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate, zinc chloride, and zinc acetate. The percentage of each varies by form. While choosing zinc supplements, choose zinc citrate or zinc gluconate as they are better absorbed, and avoid zinc oxide which is less absorbed.
Pregnant and lactating women have an increased need for zinc to 11-13 milligrams per day, depending on the age.
Zinc deficiency is not unknown; however, it is rare in the USA. Deficiency of zinc is characterized by loss of appetite, growth retardation, and impaired immune function. Severe deficiency may lead to diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, hair loss and eye and skin lesions. Other symptoms of zinc deficiency include weight loss, delayed healing of wounds, taste abnormalities, and mental lethargy Deficiency of zinc may make a person more susceptible to disease and illness. Taking zinc by mouth or giving zinc intravenously helps to restore zinc levels in people who are zinc deficient.
Large amounts of supplemental iron (greater than 25 mg) might decrease the absorption of zinc. Taking iron supplements between meals may help to decrease its effect on zinc absorption.
Various clinical studies have been conducted to identify the therapeutic benefits of Zinc.
Some of the studies conducted include:
- There is some evidence suggesting Zinc can shorten duration of the common cold and one study done in 2010 showing that Zinc had an effect on the older versions of Corona Virus. However, one must be careful as not all zinc is equally bio-available, and more than 150 mg of Zinc can lead to toxicity.
- Research suggests that nutritional doses of zinc supplements help to prevent alteration of the immune system and improve resistance to infections. 4 Zinc can help to enhance the immune cells and reduces oxidative stress.
- Study shows zinc helps to improve skin functioning & accelerate wound healing process. 5 Zinc helps in maintaining integrity, function and structure of the skin.
- Research indicates zinc is important for brain development & its proper functioning. 6 Zinc is known to improve the neuron communication and thus, affects how memories are formed and learning is enhanced.
We’ve combined this natural extract in several of our protocols that help support the boost immune system, respiratory, digestive, brain, and skin function.
Browse through our Range of Natural Health Protocols that blend Zinc with other potent, bioavailable and clinically renowned ingredients:
Dr Khyati Dave is a licensed Homeopathy Physician and Nutritional Consultant. With Biogetica, she has witnessed many patients, who had otherwise given up hope, heal faster supplemented by our natural methods. She considers consulting Biogetica patients her primary responsibility and honour. She often writes about nutrition, natural treatment methods and diet. Her mission is to apply her medical talents to help each patient heal faster and do her best to give the immunity of patients with so called ‘incurable’ diseases a fighting chance.