Zinc is one of the few metals that is necessary to the body in small amounts, and it is also considered an essential mineral. Here is a look at zinc, what it does in the body, and how you can specifically benefit from supplementing with it.
Zinc and The Human Body
Zinc is an essential mineral. This means that it is necessary for body functionality, and that it cannot be produced intrinsically, so it must be consumed via foods (or via supplementation). Zinc plays many roles in the body, and in cells specifically. These roles include DNA synthesis, immune function, enzyme activity, and cell division.
The Recommended Dietary Allowances of zinc for adults is 11mg per day for men, and 8mg per day for women. Studies have shown that most Americans consume a sufficient amount of zinc on a regular basis; However, studies also show that at least 20% of Americans over age 60 do not consume the recommended amount of zinc on a regular basis.
Overt zinc deficiency can cause serious health problems, but it is uncommon in the U.S. Certain demographics are liable to experience zinc deficiency. These include vegetarians, persons with gastrointestinal disease, women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding, and alcoholics.
How You Can Benefit From Taking Zinc
There are multiple reasons why someone might benefit from supplementing with zinc. Some of these are related to the presence of certain medical conditions, and some are just worthwhile reasons in a more general sense. Talk to your doctor before supplementing with zinc.
Supporting immune function: Mild to moderate zinc deficiency can impair some of the tasks of the immune system. Zinc plays an important role in immune response, both in controlling inflammation and combating pathogens. Taking zinc after the onset of a cold can help get rid of the cold quicker; taking it on a regular basis has been shown to have potential in preventing the common cold.
Treating acne: Zinc contributes to a healthy complexion. Many people with acne are deficient in zinc to some degree, and some experience a relief of acne after supplementing with zinc.
Balancing hormones is another role of zinc. Zinc has been shown to both naturally increase testosterone in men, and aid in the production of estrogen and progesterone. All three of these hormones are essential for reproductive health, and they must be produced sufficiently for the sake of general hormonal health.
Hair loss can potentially be avoided by supplementing with zinc. Hair is primarily composed of two proteins called keratin and collagen. Zinc is necessary for the production of both of these proteins. Those deficient in zinc are more likely to experience hair loss.
Supporting cardiovascular health: Zinc is necessary for the health of the endothelium, which is the thin tissue that lines blood cells. It can also help prevent high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which in turn supports a healthy cardiovascular system. One meta-analysis of persons with heart failure found zinc deficiency to be a pretty common factor.
Preventing and treating diarrhea can be done by taking zinc. Zinc deficiency is linked to chronic digestive problems. Taking zinc can also help alleviate acute diarrhea.
Zinc is an essential mineral that should not be discarded, given all of the roles that it plays in the human body. If you believe that you or a family member could be deficient in zinc, then it is certainly worth taking it as an oral supplement. Talk to your doctor about whether a zinc supplement could be a worthwhile addition to your health regime.