Zinc is a micronutrient that is well known for its immune-boosting properties. It is for this reason zinc is widely used in formulations meant for improving the immune system. However, there is more to zinc beyond its role in immune defense. Some of its broader roles include healthy metabolism, improved skin health, and the ability to reduce the risk of degenerative diseases. This mineral is essential for hundreds of critical bodily functions; it must be consumed daily.
What is Zinc?
Zinc is a trace mineral that is most abundant in your body, second to iron. An average adult carries about 1.5 – 2 grams of zinc which is a part of every cell. Zinc is a crucial nutrient in human nutrition because it is essential for maintaining cell growth and health. Like magnesium, zinc participates in over 300 biological pathways in the body to maintain health.
How your body uses zinc?
The Health benefits of zinc extend to a wide range of bodily functions. Zinc is a type of metal and a trace element. Because of its unique nature, it is involved in many essential processes in your body.
Here are some critical zinc uses:
- Wound healing and cell repair
- Growth and development
- Taste and smell sensation
- It is a cofactor and coenzyme multiple biochemical reactions
- Gene expression and replication
- Part of antioxidant enzyme
- Prevents premature aging
- Necessary for fertility
The above is a snapshot of zinc uses and the reason zinc is good for your overall wellbeing. Let’s delve deeper into more information on some of the top health benefits of zinc and reasons to consume enough of this nutrient in your daily diet.
Health Benefits of Zinc
- Antioxidant: Zinc acts as an effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, hence, helps to decrease the chance for disease development. A study from the School of Medicine at the University of Michigan found that zinc supplements lowered the oxidative stress levels among 50 adults. The results were significantly lower when compared to the placebo group. Keeping the oxidative stress to a minimum helps protect cells, organs and reduces the risk of degenerative diseases. Research also shows that zinc is an effective inflammation fighter and effectively reduces allergies.
- Improves blood parameters: Studies show that zinc plays a crucial role in fat and glucose breakdown by regulating and forming the expression of insulin. Numerous studies show zinc supplementation has improved blood glucose, blood pressure, and serum LDL cholesterol levels.
- Strengthens the immune system: A statement from the National Institute of Health states that severe zinc deficiency depresses immune function. Even mild to moderate zinc deficiency impairs the activity of immune cells in the body leading to weak response to infections. This information underscores the importance of sufficient zinc intake for a robust immune response. Zinc is necessary for immune cell function and cell signaling; a deficiency leads to a weakened immune response. A review of seven studies demonstrated that taking 80-92 mg of zinc per day may reduce the length of the common cold by up to 33%.
- Keeps your heart healthy: Zinc maintains the cells in the heart tissues and lowers inflammation and oxidative stress. The endothelial lining, the thin layer the lines the blood vessels, is partially dependent on adequate zinc levels . Besides, zinc supports blood circulation, promotes better fat breakdown, which helps as a remedy to prevent elevated cholesterol levels.
- Maintains hormone health: Low zinc levels directly affects the growth hormones, thyroid hormones, testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone in the body. The ovaries in the female reproductive system are dependent on sufficient zinc levels to secrete estrogen and progesterone. The male reproductive hormone testosterone is also dependent on sufficient zinc levels for its normal secretion. Overall optimal zinc levels directly influence the reproductive and fertility health of both genders.
Who is at risk of zinc inadequacy?
Athletes: Those involved in prolonged physical activity are at risk of zinc inadequacy because they tend to lose zinc via sweat. Research shows that runners have lower plasma zinc levels than controls, indicating the need for zinc supplementation.
People with gastrointestinal troubles: People with malabsorption issues and other digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and short bowel syndrome can exhibit pronounced zinc-deficient states.
Older adults: The elderly tend to consume less food in general and have significant issues with efficient absorption of nutrients from food, which increases the risk of deficiency.
Pregnant/lactating moms: Pregnant and lactating mothers may have an increased demand for zinc due to rapid cell division during these periods. Inadequate intake can result in low levels of zinc.
Chronic conditions: People with chronic conditions such as renal disease, sickle cell disease, chronic liver disease, and diabetes are also at risk.
How to tell if you are low in zinc?
Zinc deficiency manifests itself in subtle ways and is often misunderstood for other nutrient deficiencies.
Here are the tell-tale signs of zinc deficiency:
- Loss of taste
- Hair loss
- Frequent illness (cold/ respiratory conditions)
- Delayed wound healing
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Inability to focus
- Skin lesions
- Loss of appetite
How much zinc per day?
If your zinc intake is low, it’s possible to frequently come down with a cold, feel chronically tired, and have poor focus. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that you get enough of this crucial nutrient in your diet. Besides, zinc is not produced by the body; hence, it is vital to consume zinc-rich food and take zinc supplements. The recommended amount of zinc per day is 11 milligrams for males and 8 milligrams for females.
Are there any side effects of zinc you should be aware of?
Zinc supplements taken at the recommended doses do not result in side effects for most people. However, zinc overdose results in side effects such as nausea, indigestion, changes in taste, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. It is also important to note that zinc supplements may interact with other medications including antibiotics, and diuretics. It is essential to consult with your doctor if using zinc supplements is safe when using these medications regularly.
Choosing a zinc supplement
Quality: A high-quality zinc supplement ensures that most of the zinc is absorbed by the body. The recommended dosage for zinc is 11 mg per day for adult males and 8 mg per day for adult females.
Bioavailability: Bioavailability is the fraction of intake that can be absorbed into the bloodstream and used by the body. Besides a person’s zinc status, the bioavailability of this essential mineral is dependent on two factors –the amount of zinc in the diet and the availability of zinc in a soluble or easily absorbable form from food. For these reasons, it is crucial to choose a zinc supplement presented in a bioavailable form.
Chelated form: Choosing zinc in a cheated form makes it better available to the body for absorption and use. When a zinc molecule is combined with a chelating agent, it is called chelated zinc. Chelating agents are compounds that bond with metal ions like zinc to form a water-soluble complex that is easily absorbed by the body.
Here are our recommendations for the best zinc supplements:
Pure Encapsulations Zinc 30: This formulation offers 30 mg of zinc in the form of zinc picolinate in one vegetarian capsule. The supplement is non-GMO, hypoallergenic, gluten-free, and vegan. Zinc picolinate in its chelated form is well absorbed by the body.
Pure Encapsulations recommend consuming one capsule daily along with a meal for optimal zinc supply in your diet. Since the product is hypoallergenic, it is suitable for patients with a sensitive digestive system. The supplement is third-party tested, and it 100% sourced from plants that fit the needs of vegan and plant-based consumers.
Zinc Picolinate 50mg by Douglas Laboratories: This supplement provides 50 mg of Zinc picolinate in one gelatin capsule. Zinc picolinate is among the most researched zinc chelates and is used in many formulations. The chelated form of zinc promotes better bioavailability, thereby increases zinc absorption in the body.
Zinc-Carnosine by Integrative Therapeutics: This supplement provides 75 mg of zinc-carnosine per capsule, which matches the dosage used in research. The formulation contains the PepZin GI brand of zinc-carnosine to support a healthy gastrointestinal lining and relieve mild gastric discomforts. PepZin Gi enhances stomach lining integrity and dissociates in the stomach slowly, resulting in better absorption. This product is suitable for patients with a sensitive digestive system. Integrative Therapeutics recommends one capsule two times a day or as advised by your healthcare provider.
At Supplement First, we ensure we offer thoroughly vetted, high-quality products for our consumers. The above-recommended supplements meet the highest standards for quality and bioavailability set for zinc supplements. You need zinc for various functions in the body. The chelated form of this mineral delivers zinc in a more readily absorbable form.