You’ve probably gone to the store to buy zinc when you felt a cold coming on or thought your immune system needed a little boost. Many people don’t give zinc much thought until they get sick, but you may not realize the number of functions that zinc is involved in with the body. It does much more than help you feel better when under the weather. In this article, we explore how zinc is an essential nutrient and how it can improve your health.
Zinc is a trace mineral. Your body needs a small amount of it to function properly. It’s necessary for almost 100 enzymes to process critical chemical reactions. It helps create DNA, builds proteins, heals damaged tissues, and helps make your immune system more resilient.
Proper zinc amounts are crucial during rapid growth periods like childhood because it helps your cells grow and multiply. (1) It is the second most abundant mineral in the body, after iron. Many people also don’t know that zinc is necessary for taste and smell. You may remember that many people lost their sense of smell and ability to taste when they became ill with the coronavirus.
On the flip side, if you don’t get enough zinc, your health could be negatively impacted. For instance, if you get a virus and don’t have adequate amounts of zinc, it may take longer to get well. Also, if you’re getting sick more often, you should consider that a possible zinc deficiency could be part of the issue.
Other people may notice mood disturbances when they don’t have enough zinc. They report not feeling quite like themselves but aren’t sure why. Some other signs of zinc deficiency symptoms are:
Since zinc is imperative for your immune system to work correctly, having adequate levels can decrease your risk of various infections, like colds, the flu, and pneumonia. (2) To keep your immune function up to par, consider adding a quality zinc supplement to your wellness protocol. Since your body doesn’t store the mineral, you must take it daily for proper absorption.
Zinc supplementation has also been used for years to calm symptoms of an upset stomach, like diarrhea. You may notice that many children’s electrolyte drinks have zinc in them.
If you want healthy skin, you need zinc. People who have long-term ulcers or skin wounds frequently have lower zinc levels. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend taking zinc to help speed the healing process.
Since zinc has antioxidant properties, it helps reduce oxidative stress. There may be a link between oxidative stress and chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. It can affect other metabolic syndrome issues, as well. (3)
Low zinc levels can lead to problems with sexual development and fertility problems. That may be due to the antioxidant benefits and hormone-balancing properties of zinc.
There is evidence to support the role of zinc in patients experiencing neurological symptoms. In a study, people with low blood levels of zinc and other nutrient deficiencies showed some improvement after zinc was increased to normal levels. (4) Along with improving neurological issues, zinc may boost cognitive function. Some people notice that zinc supplementation improves their memory and learning capabilities.
During the pandemic, we heard a lot about immunizations and social distancing, but we didn’t get much information about a healthy diet and the importance of proper supplementation. Any virus that attacks your immune function sends a storm of inflammation to your body, but with respiratory viruses, your lungs are often also affected.
Since zinc has been shown in studies to decrease inflammation and oxidative stress, it only makes logical sense that it can help reduce your infection time and severity. Zinc fights off these viruses and reduces the risk of infection.
Zinc also inhibits the replication of viruses. That means it halts the viral spread, so it doesn’t completely take over. It cannot continue to invade your body and make you sick. In recent studies, zinc supplementation has been associated with a lower mortality rate of COVID-19. (5)
Some people have taken zinc and complained of nausea shortly after. If this has ever happened to you, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it. That typically happens when you take it on an empty stomach. To avoid these unpleasant symptoms, take it with a meal, just like with a multivitamin.
Zinc comes in different forms. Don’t get the cheapest one you find at the local grocery store. Get a highly absorbable form of zinc. With all supplements, you typically get what you pay for, so keep that in mind.
The proper dose of zinc for health maintenance is around 20-35 mg a day. You don’t need to take excessive amounts of it every day to see the benefits. If you get sick, you may need a little more during that time, but consult your healthcare specialist before taking large amounts. Doses will vary depending on the specific situation.
Some of the richest food sources of zinc include meat, fish, and seafood. The bioavailability of these sources is higher than you get from beans, grains, and nuts. (6) That could be why some of the followers of a plant-based diet are often efficient in zinc.
Getting enough zinc is one of the easiest ways to improve your health and keep your immune system functioning appropriately. With all the evidence out there regarding how zinc optimizes your body, it’s crucial that you get adequate amounts to stay healthy.
Healthcare doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Many people get caught up in the various nuances of wellness, but it’s not always hard. Sometimes merely adding something to your daily regimen can give you noticeable improvements in your health. There are no complicated formulas to remember. If you’re not sure if you need zinc, get a blood test to check your levels and speak to your doctor to find out how much zinc is right for you. If you don’t have a functional medicine doctor, we highly recommend you explore why holistic medicine is quickly becoming the choice for many people. Consider contacting us today to learn how we can obtain your bloodwork and health history to review the root cause of your health concerns.