Among the many nutrients required by the body are those deemed “trace minerals,” and zinc is one of the most important. Here is a look at this trace mineral and the benefits likely available to you from supplementing with zinc.
Zinc in the Human Body
Zinc is an essential nutrient, meaning that the body requires zinc yet it can neither produce nor store it. Therefore, it must be consumed. Furthermore, zinc is a trace mineral (along with iron and others), meaning that it’s a metal which the body requires only in very small amounts.
The recommended daily allowance of zinc for adults is 15 mg per day. However, a fair amount of people seem to not get this much consistently, despite the fact that zinc is present in many types of foods. This is one of the reasons that so many people could benefit from supplementing with zinc, even if it’s present in the foods they consume.
Zinc is the second-most abundant trace mineral in the body, and is present in every single cell. In fact, it is necessary for the production and activity of more than 300 different enzymes! These are enzymes which contribute to metabolism, digestion, nerve function, and more. Zinc is also essential for the growth and division (replication) of cells, and DNA synthesis. All of these roles make zinc very important for your body’s health.
Benefits of Taking Zinc
Zinc offers a variety of potential health benefits, which is why it should be a staple in most people’s daily diet. The best-known of these aids is its ability to help mitigate the common cold. Following is the lowdown on why and how you should supplement with zinc:
Combatting the common cold: The most studied and most touted benefit of zinc is its potential to reduce the length and severity of the common cold. A meta-study has shown zinc supplementation to correlate strongly with treating colds. If an individual begins taking zinc in the first two days of cold symptoms, it could effectively reduce the duration of the infection and the severity of symptoms. Various studies also show that supplementing with zinc daily reduces the chances of your contracting a cold in the first place.
Immunity support: Zinc contributes to the strength of immune cell functioning and signaling. As a result, zinc supplementation could help combat infections other than the common cold. It could be especially helpful for supporting the immune health of older adults.
Aids in wound healing: About 5% of your body’s zinc content ends up in your skin. Zinc helps the skin by contributing to collagen synthesis, and inflammatory response. Supplementing with zinc has been shown in some studies to bolster the wound-healing process. Those who are deficient in zinc, or at risk of deficiency, could especially benefit from taking zinc, because the healing of a wound can be impaired by zinc deficiency.
Skin health: Because so much zinc is contained in the skin, supplementing with it could actually reduce the presence of acne. It primarily does so by reducing inflammation. Studies show that those with acne are more likely to be zinc-deficient.
Eye health: The retinas in your eyes contain a high concentration of zinc. Correspondingly, some studies show that supplementing with zinc can reduce the chances of age-related macular degeneration, and vision loss. Zinc does this by reducing oxidative stress on the retinas.
Whether it’s for combating the common cold, taking care of your skin, or preserving eye health, you could very well benefit from supplementing with zinc. It’s recommended that you talk to your healthcare provider before taking zinc for the first time.