10 Ways Zinc Benefits Your Health
Do you love the pungent aroma and taste of your morning cup of coffee? Or maybe the mouthwatering smell of fresh bread or the fragrance of a rose? If so, you have zinc to thank for that!
That’s because one of the enzymes that’s vital for your senses of taste and smell is dependent on zinc, and a deficiency of this nutrient can reduce these sensations.
Since zinc is necessary for hundreds of processes in your body, supplementing this vital mineral can be beneficial for most people. But the differences in quality, purity, and bioavailability of zinc supplements is vast, and some may turn your stomach upside down and cause more trouble than they’re worth. Read on to find out more.
What is Zinc?
Present in every cell in the body, zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in your body, after iron. It’s an essential nutrient, which means that your body doesn’t produce it and must regularly obtain it through food or supplements.
It’s also a trace mineral, meaning that you only need small amounts, yet it’s critical for the activity of about 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function, and many other processes.
Here are the top ten ways that zinc contributes to your health.
1. Immune Health
Since zinc supports the growth and normal functioning of immune cells, even a slight deficiency can lead to a weakened immune response. In fact, a meta-analysis of seven randomized trials recently reported that zinc supplementation can reduce the duration of common seasonal symptoms by 33%.
2. Healthy Skin
Six percent of your total body's zinc is in your skin, where it helps support healthy repair and rejuvenation of your largest organ. When you cut yourself, the amount of zinc in the skin surrounding a wound increases as enzymes and proteins work to provide your immune system with the tools to protect and regenerate skin cells.
Zinc is needed for the formation of collagen, the skin’s structural protein, and is frequently used in the treatment of acne, rosacea, eczema, and melasma. To learn more, check out Zinc and Skin Health: What You Need to Know.
3. Women’s Reproductive Health
Zinc is important for women’s reproductive health and is needed for proper
hormone function, ovulation, and fertilization. It’s also critical for a baby’s normal growth and development during pregnancy.
A study at Pennsylvania State University found that zinc deficiency can negatively affect the early stages of egg development, reducing the ability of the egg cells to divide and be fertilized.
4. Men’s Reproductive Health
For men, zinc is essential for the production of testosterone, the formation of healthy sperm, and maintaining a healthy prostate. Studies show that zinc plays a role in supporting male fertility by fostering sperm quality and quantity.
5. Healthy Hair
Keratin is a protein that makes up the hair shaft and is also in your skin and nails. Zinc is required for your body to produce keratin, and even a slight deficiency may result in hair loss and make your hair susceptible to dryness and breakage. Studies have shown that zinc supplementation can reduce hair loss caused by zinc deficiency.
6. Eye Health
Zinc is concentrated in the retina of your eyes, and it plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. The amount of zinc declines with age and has been found to be important in preventing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a major cause of vision loss in older people.
The National Eye Institute conducted Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2) that concluded that taking supplements with zinc delayed the progression of AMD in patents.
7. Digestive Health
Zinc is critical for supporting intestinal health. In a dual role, a healthy intestinal lining acts as both a protective barrier to unwelcome particles and organisms and a permeable membrane that allows nutrients to be absorbed from food into the bloodstream. By supporting the function and integrity of both gastrointestinal cells and immune cells, zinc is important for maintaining a healthy lining of the digestive tract.
Zinc also plays a role in the production of digestive enzymes, the compounds in our gut that break down our food. Zinc deficiency can impair your ability to digest and absorb enough nutrients.
8. Thyroid Health
Zinc is required for thyroid hormone production and is needed for healthy levels of T3, T4, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Deficiency in the mineral can cause hypothyroidism. The reverse is also true. Since thyroid hormones are essential for the absorption of zinc, hypothyroidism can result in zinc deficiency.
9. Healthy Mood
Zinc is key for the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine — also known as your “happy hormones.” Serotonin helps keep you content, confident and calm, while dopamine is your reward chemical that boosts drive, focus, and concentration. Studies have shown that low levels of zinc were strongly correlated with an increased risk for a depressed mood.
10. Brain Health
Zinc is essential for proper brain and cognitive function, with the highest levels of the nutrient being found in the hippocampus, the center of learning and memory. Studies indicate that zinc deficiency is surprisingly common in people with neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease. The mineral has been shown to improve mental capacity in elders and can help hold off the onset of dementia.
Risk of Deficiency
Zinc deficiency is common in the developing world, and it’s estimated that about 12 percent of the US population may be at risk for deficiency — with as much as 40 percent of the elderly due to inadequate dietary intake and a reduced ability to absorb the mineral.
Some other people with a high risk for zinc deficiency include:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Vegetarians and vegans
- People with digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease
- Individuals with malabsorption syndrome like celiac disease
- Those with high alcohol intake
- People with sickle cell anemia
- Those on certain medications like PPI’s, diuretics & anti-convulsants
Food Sources of Zinc
A wide array of foods contain zinc, with oysters providing far and away more zinc per serving than any other food. Red meat and poultry, however, provide the majority of zinc in the US diet. Other good food sources include beans, nuts, shellfish like crab and lobster, whole grains, and dairy products.
Phytates, which are present in whole-grains, legumes, and other plant foods, bind zinc and inhibit its absorption. So, the bioavailability of zinc from plant-based foods is lower than that from animal sources. This means that vegetarians and vegans may require up to 50% more zinc in their diet due to their lower absorption of the mineral.
Many zinc supplements are harsh on the digestive tract and cause stomach irritation, nausea, and vomiting. Zinc Complex™, on the other hand, is made using a fermentation process which converts zinc into a food-form matrix, which is gentle on the stomach and easy to absorb. This fermented zinc is then synergized with an organic food complex of shiitake mushrooms, camu camu berries, collard greens, spinach, parsley, and cruciferous sprouts. Plus, Zinc Complex is made without any artificial fillers, additives or chemical solvents whatsoever.
With Zinc Complex, you can enjoy the vast health benefits that zinc has to offer, without the risk of an upset stomach, in a form that is made with organic ingredients, vegan, non-GMO, dairy-free, gluten free, and that is good for you and the planet.