Zinc is one of the most active minerals in the body as it influences the functioning of hundreds of different enzymes. Although often overshadowed in the popular press by the likes of iron and chromium, lately zinc has been thrust into the limelight. Zinc supplements have been purported to reduce the length and severity of the common cold, which will be discussed.
In living things, zinc is more associated with amino acids and proteins. Therefore, it is logical to presume that animal foods, with their higher protein content, would be better zinc sources than plant foods. This is true. The best sources of zinc include organ meats, other red meats, and seafood (especially oysters and mollusks). Poultry, pork, milk and milk products, whole grains (especially germ and bran), and leafy and root vegetables are also respectable contributors of zinc.
Zinc is found in all tissue of the body and is believed to be necessary for more than two hundred different chemical reactions. Zinc largely functions as a necessary component of various enzymes, which would regulate all of those chemical reactions. In fact, the number of enzymes whose optimal function relies upon zinc is probably greater than the total number of enzymes that rely on all of the other trace elements combined.
Absorption of zinc from the digestive tract is not well understood. However, it does seem that many factors can influence how efficiently zinc is absorbed. For instance, zinc derived from meat boasts better absorption than zinc from plant sources. Zinc absorption from meat may actually be enhanced by certain amino acids, which would be present during simultaneous protein digestion. On the other hand, the efficiency of zinc absorption from plant foods seems to be lower which may in part be due to the presence of phytate, oxalates, and probably other substances (tannins) also found in many plants. Recommendations for dietary zinc takes into consideration the impact of various substances on zinc absorption.
Health Benefits of Zinc
Zinc is a trace mineral which is crucial to all forms of life due to its fundamental role in gene expression, replication and cell development. The deficiency of zinc was characterized by hypogonadism, short stature, skin disorders, impaired immune function, anorexia and cognitive dysfunction. Zinc is essential for crucial role in natural growth, biological performances and development.
- Skin health
It has a basic role in adjusting testosterone levels in body which are associated to acne and other skin problems. Zinc intensifies testosterone levels in males and keeps the skin look young for longer time period. Acne is caused of bacteria and inflamed pores. Zinc promotes white blood cell count and prevent the chances of bacterial infections.
- Prostate health
Swelling of prostate gland and prostate disorder results to prostate cancer. People with this disorder are recommended to intake 15 mg intake of zinc to diet. It helps to treat prostate disorders.
- Support brain function
Zinc facilitates with Vitamin B6 to promote brain health. Diet rich in zinc assist cognitive function intact in old age. Hippocampus is the part of brain related with memory encloses of high concentration of this mineral. It assists brain function even if it has maintained injury. It poses a preventive measure for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Sharpen senses
The body reacts differently as it ages. Some feel the sharpening of senses whereas some begin to feel real effects of old age. It makes the senses sharp especially sense of smell and taste. The daily intake of zinc promotes regeneration of cell and sharpens senses.
- Cure cold
Pro inflammatory cytokines body bothers body during bouts of cold. It is an effective mineral which lower number of these cytokines. Zinc is able to promote production of white blood cells when body experience viruses and infections such as cold or influenza.
- Lose weight
Zinc handle ghrelin hormone which provides midnight hunger pangs even though having full meal. It acts as an appetite and assist lose weight.
- Promote regeneration of cells
Protein synthesis is required by the body for maintaining healthy metabolic rate and assist in promote regeneration of cells. As a stimulator, zinc assists enzymatic functions and protein synthesis which supports the proper body functions.
- Supports cell growth
Zinc is an imperative part of enzymatic functions which execute cell growth and cell regeneration. This assists in DNA repairment and presents a vital role in keeping the metabolism fast as well as healthy. It enhances metabolism and enables body in converting carbohydrates into energy.
- Prevent cancer
Zinc is able to protect cells and repair them to be very useful for preventing the commencement of cancer. Cancer cells damage DNA so it is essential to add diet rich in zinc in order to combat degradation of cells.
- Alleviate fatigue
Zinc assists the body in producing energy as it eases metabolic function. Women with zinc supplements during PMS lowers fatigue and maintain the energy levels at high. Doctors recommend fish oil to combat fatigue as it is high in zinc which is effective.
- Treat night blindness
Zinc preserves vital organs. Increase in intake of zinc helps to sharpen eyesight and studies shows that zinc lowers the risk of night blindness. Zinc with Vitamin A is helpful for maintaining eye health.
- Balance hormones
Zinc is beneficial for hormone health and fertility as it has a vital role in production of hormones such as increment in testosterone naturally which has roles in both women and men. It impact female sex hormones and involves in creation and release of eggs from ovaries. Zinc is required for production of progesterone and estrogen in women which supports assist reproductive health. The too high or low level of estrogens causes problems such as mood swings, menstruation, infertility, early menopause and also the chances of cancers.
- Helpful for diabetic patients
Zinc is must in order to balance hormones like insulin which is the primary hormone which is involved in regulating blood sugar and a natural cure for diabetes. It is beneficial for blood sugar levels as it bind to insulin which is stored in pancreas and release when glucose enters bloodstream. It utilizes digestive enzymes properly which is essential for insulin to bind to cells. Glucose is used as a fuel for body instead of being stored as fat.
- Cardiovascular health
Zinc is required for maintaining cells health within cardiovascular system by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation. Endothelium is a thin layer of cells which lines blood vessels which partially lies on sufficient levels of zinc. Zinc is beneficial for heart health by supporting healthy circulation and it is a cure for high blood pressure or cholesterol levels from damaged or clogged arteries.
- Repair for muscles
Zinc has a pivotal role in cell growth and cell division. Zinc is beneficial for growth and repairmen of muscles by assisting body to heal itself and also to maintain strength in skeletal and muscular systems. It assist in releasing testosterone, insulin like growth factor and growth hormone which build muscle mass and supports healthy metabolism. It is beneficial for muscle mass as it promotes the amount of testosterone the body is able to produce during HIIT workouts and weight training because it promotes the conversion of androstenedione to testosterone.
- Treat alopecia
Alopecia results hair loss in both adults and children. Doctors recommend increasing the intake of zinc in diet. It is beneficial for maintaining strong hair and also to lower the symptoms of alopecia. Zinc capsules and supplements could be found in groceries and health food stores. Studies show that it is effective to treat alopecia in children and adults.
Food sources of Zinc
|Food name||Weight (g)||Zinc (mg)||DV%|
|Rice bran, crude||118||7||63%|
|Cocoa, dry powder||86||5||45%|
Can Zinc Become Toxic?
Zinc toxicity would tend to happen only by supplementation. One of the biggest concerns with higher zinc intakes is its relationship to copper. It is possible to reduce copper intake and induce signs of copper deficiency by consuming as little as three to ten times the RDA for zinc over several months. Because of the inverse relationship between dietary zinc and copper absorption, the utilization of high zinc supplements is not recommended unless a physician has recognized a need. This is particularly true for people who use zinc supplements to treat the common cold. These supplements should not be continued beyond 5 to 7 days.
The deficiency of zinc causes diarrhea, hair loss, impotence, delayed sexual maturation, eye or skin lesions and hypogonadism in males. Moreover delayed healing of wounds, weight loss, mental lethargy and taste abnormalities could occur.
Excessive presence of zinc causes side effects such as vomiting, nausea, stomach pains, loss of appetite, diarrhea and headaches. High zinc in body also leads to development of kidney stones. In high doses, if zinc is taken orally for long term then it results copper deficiency.
Daily Recommended Allowance
For 0-6 months: 2mg
For 7-12 months: 3mg
For 1-3 years: 3mg
For 4-8 years: 5mg
For 9-13 years: 8mg
For 14-18 years: 11 mg for males and 9 mg for females
For 19+ years: 11 mg for males and 8 mg for females
Expecting ladies require a dose of 12 mg every day.