Zinc Benefits, Deficiencies, Sources & Supplements
You may have heard about zinc and its benefits for the common cold. However, there’s much more to this mineral than simply immune support. In this article, we look closely at zinc benefits, zinc-rich foods, zinc deficiency, and more. What should you know about this essential nutrient? And more importantly, how can you get more of it?
What is Zinc?
Zinc is a mineral and an essential nutrient. This means we must consume zinc via our diets or supplementation since the body doesn’t naturally make it on its own.
Zinc is the most abundant trace mineral in the body, after iron. While we can’t live a healthy and abundant life without this mineral, we only need small quantities of it for optimal wellness—hence, why it’s called a “trace” mineral.
The Role of Zinc in your Body
Our bodies require a variety of vitamins and minerals to function. In many ways, these nutrients, obtained via a healthy diet, supply the tools and resources that our bodies are unable to make on their own, including zinc.
Zinc is found in every single cell in the human body, and the body needs this mineral for a variety of essential functions. It plays a role in the functioning of hundreds of enzymes, which act as catalysts for chemical reactions in the body. In fact, this is largely why zinc is so important; These chemical reactions drive necessary processes for digestion, nerve function, metabolism, and more.
Zinc also facilitates the enzymatic reactions involved in taste and smell. In other words, without adequate zinc, you might experience changes in your sense of taste and smell or lose them altogether.
Zinc is further required for healthy skin, healthy hair, immunity, and collagen synthesis. It also aids in cell division and growth, making it a vital nutrient during childhood development, adolescence, and pregnancy.
Benefits of Zinc
So, what is zinc good for exactly? Well, there are actually countless zinc benefits, including:
- A good immune response
- Accelerated wound healing
- Reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration
- Acne prevention and treatment
- The regulation of sleep
- Decreased chronic inflammation
Ensuring you consume enough zinc-rich foods or take a zinc supplement helps you obtain these benefits and prevents you from developing a zinc deficiency.
Zinc Benefits for Men
Zinc is invaluable for optimal men’s health. Research shows how zinc is a key ingredient in immune function, healthy cell growth, the preservation of prostate health, and the maintenance of testosterone levels.
Zinc’s role in immune function applies to both men and women. This mineral is important for immune cell development and function, as well as for reducing inflammation and preventing harm to the body’s cells caused by free radicals (a natural byproduct of metabolism). And this is why zinc is often recommended when sick.
When it comes to men’s health, specifically, zinc helps maintain a healthy prostate by reducing inflammation in the body, which may reduce one’s risk of developing an enlarged prostate. Additionally, low testosterone due to a zinc deficiency may lead to fatigue, reduced muscle mass, reduced libido, and erectile dysfunction. This can further lead to other problems. For instance, reduced muscle mass can increase your susceptibility to various metabolic diseases and conditions.
Zinc Benefits for Women
Just like for men, zinc has an important place when it comes to women’s reproductive health. Research demonstrates that with zinc supplementation, women experience reduced menstrual cramping and pain and improved insulin sensitivity (specifically in those with PCOS). It may even play a role in regulating the menstrual cycle, including ovulation. Numerous studies also show how zinc is crucial for fetal development and a healthy pregnancy.
Studies further indicate how zinc aids collagen synthesis. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and makes up a variety of tissues, including muscle, ligaments, tendons, bone, skin, and more. Collagen, in particular, can help support good bone health for women. After the age of 50, women face an increased risk of osteoporosis (a low bone density). Zinc may help lower this risk by helping supply adequate collagen to the skeletal system.
A zinc deficiency is rare. However, symptoms of a zinc deficiency may include:
- Sexual dysfunction or delayed sexual maturity
- Reduced wound healing capabilities
- Skin rashes
- Slowed or delayed growth and development
- Hair loss or thinning
If you have a zinc deficiency, your immune system may also become impacted, leading to increased infections, frequent cold symptoms, and other illnesses. If your doctor suspects you have a zinc deficiency, they will likely have you perform a blood test or urine analysis.
Zinc for Hair
Zinc, hair, and beauty tend to go hand-in-hand. In fact, many women experience post-partum hair loss (Perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself!). Zinc might help improve hair health, prevent hair loss, and reduce hair shedding or thinning. On the other hand, a zinc deficiency can lead to significant hair loss.
When it comes to zinc for hair health, this mineral helps support the hair follicles, which are essential for healthy and luxurious locks! Even if you aren’t suffering from post-partum hair loss, zinc can help improve and maintain the look and health of your hair.
Sources of Zinc
Luckily, there are many ways to obtain zinc via your diet or through supplementation. Some good sources of zinc include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Oysters, lobster
- Red meat, beef
Including these high-zinc foods in your diet regularly can ensure you don’t become deficient and gain all the zinc benefits discussed above!
A zinc supplement can further help you obtain this essential mineral, especially if you may not have access to the foods mentioned above or your specific diet doesn’t include them. Zinc supplements often come in the form of capsules or tablets. However, zinc lozenges, especially when sick, are also popular options.
For optimal zinc benefits, the recommended dosage is at least 11 mg per day for men and eight mg per day for women. However, it’s important to note that if you’re supplementing with zinc, the type of zinc you take may impact the dosage.
If you’re searching for reputable supplementation, look no further than McCauley’s vitamins and supplements.
While zinc has many health benefits, consuming too much can be harmful. Possible adverse effects of taking too much may include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Loss of appetite
Do you still have a couple of questions that are unanswered? Check out the FAQs below.
Is it good to take zinc every day?
If you don’t get enough zinc via the food you eat or have a zinc deficiency, taking zinc supplementation each day can help ensure your body gets the amount it needs.
Who needs to take zinc?
Those who are deficient in zinc should take it in supplement form. Additionally, zinc is really important for children during their developmental years and pregnant women.
Who should not take zinc?
If you are taking amiloride or are allergic to zinc products, it’s important not to take zinc supplementation to avoid adverse reactions.