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5 surprising benefits of zinc (and how to include more in your diet)

5 surprising benefits of zinc (and how to include more in your diet)

When most people think of zinc, they think of having a common cold. That's because many people up their zinc intake when they are feeling under the weather. This is because of the role that zinc plays in supporting the immune system. However, there's so much more to zinc and your overall health that you may not know!


What is zinc?

Zinc is an essential mineral that your body uses in many different ways. Second only to iron as the most abundant trace mineral in your body, zinc occurs naturally and is present in every cell. It is necessary to activate over 300 enzymes that boost metabolism, digestion, and nerve function.

Zinc is also used by your body for cell production, skin health, protein production, wound healing, enzymatic reactions, and immune function. In other words, zinc is a pretty important mineral. 

How much zinc do I need?

It does take some zinc to become deficient. In some instances your zinc levels may be low, indicating a zinc deficient body. The results could include hair loss, diarrhea, weight loss, brittle nails, swollen eyes and lips, and difficulty in concentration.

Generally, the recommended dietary allowance for adult men is 11 mg per day and 8 mg of zinc per day for adult women.

Why use zinc supplements?

Because zinc plays such a key role in the body, it is important to consume sufficient amounts of this essential mineral.

Some people may struggle to obtain zinc through food sources. Those on vegetarian diets, a plant-based on vegan diet, or people with health conditions that affect absorption may be more at risk of zinc deficiency.

What does zinc deficiency look like?

Zinc deficiency is more common than you may think. Because zinc affects so many bodily functions, there are a variety of symptoms that may mean you have a zinc deficiency. Here are a few of them:

  • unexplained weight loss

  • open wounds

  • lack of alertness

  • decreased sense of smell and taste

  • diarrhea

  • loss of appetite

These are just a few of the symptoms to recognize if you are worried about needing more zinc in your diet. Too much zinc, on the other hand, can also be problematic. These symptoms are as follows:

  • nausea

  • diarrhea

  • loss of appetite

  • stomach cramps

  • headaches

Be sure to check with your physician if you think you may be at risk of having a zinc deficiency, so they can help you find the right zinc levels you need when it comes to zinc supplementation.

What are the benefits of zinc supplementation?

Zinc supplements can be useful to ensure are commonly taken for their various health benefits that range from supporting immune health to skin health.

In fact, there are several potential benefits of zinc:

  1. SKIN HEALTH

Studies suggest that acne has been linked to low levels of zinc. They have also shown how zinc may be beneficial for those deal with acne or breakouts due to its ability to support healthy inflammatory responses and impact the amount of sebum (oil) that is produced in the skin. But its skin-boosting benefits don't end there. The body also uses zinc for collagen synthesis. As a major "building block" of our skin, collagen is responsible for promoting skin hydration and elasticity.

  1. BONE HEALTH

Zinc is also important for healthy, strong bones. Not only is zinc used by the body for the production of bone, but it is also needed for proper calcium absorption. Calcium is used by the body for the healthy growth of bones, supporting bone density, and for maintaining general bone health. In fact, over 99% of the calcium in your body is stored in the teeth and bones. Several studies have also linked this mineral with higher bone density.

  1. SUPPORTS HEALTHY AGING

According to studies, zinc may be beneficial in supporting certain age-related health conditions. One of the most studied of these is called age-related macular degeneration. Because it may help support a healthy immune system, adequate intake of zinc can help ensure normal immune responses. One study suggested that zinc supplementation could have a positive effect on the immune function of older adults. Paying attention to zinc intake is particularly important because several studies have suggested that zinc levels may begin to decline as we age.

  1. SUPPORTS HEALTHY INFLAMMATORY RESPONSES

As mentioned, zinc can support skin health because of its role in promoting healthy inflammatory responses. Oxidative stress is one of the key factors that contributes to unhealthy inflammatory responses, which can be the cause of several long-term health conditions, according to researchers. One study suggested that zinc aids inflammatory responses because of its ability to reduce oxidative stress and its damaging effects.

  1. WOUND HEALING

Zinc is thought to aid wound healing when used topically as well as through zinc supplementation. Topically, zinc can be used to treat burns and other types of skin injuries. Zinc deficiencies can slow down the time it takes for skin to heal from a wound.


Where can I find zinc?

This essential nutrient is naturally found in plant foods like nuts, beans, and tofu, or in animal foods like red meat, eggs and shellfish.

Some of the best sources of zinc that can be found in food include:

  • Oysters

  • Lentils

  • Hemp seeds

  • Cashews

  • Milk and cheese

  • Dark chocolate

  • Red meat

The body does not product zinc on its own which means that it needs to be consumed through diet or supplements. This is why people who may experience zinc deficiency or low levels of zinc often turn to zinc supplements to ensure they are getting proper zinc intake. Some may also use zinc supplementation if they are unable to obtain enough zinc through diet alone or who may have conditions that inhibit zinc absorption.

Zinc supplements can be made with zinc alone, but it is usually found in vitamin and mineral supplements that combine different nutrients. Because of its ability to support the immune system, zinc can also be found in nasal sprays or zinc lozenges.

Tips for taking a zinc supplement

If you choose to take a zinc supplement or a supplement that combines zinc with other vitamins and/or minerals, it's a good idea to choose one that contains the most bioavailable zinc. Bioavailability refers to how well nutrients are absorbed by the body. Taking huge doses of zinc that has poor bioavailability is generally thought to be less effective than consuming an optimum dose of zinc with high bioavailability. Even though you can take zinc daily you should never over-indulge yourself. In general, most health professionals agree that the maximum daily dose of zinc is 30 milligrams. You should always be sure to consult with your doctor before making a major lifestyle change or beginning a new supplementation routine.

 

Do you have more questions about zinc? Join our Facebook Group and ask as many questions as you'd like! We're here to answer them for you.

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