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Last update: June 12, 2024

5 minute read

The Health Benefits of Zinc

This post explores the many benefits of zinc, including its role in immune function, wound healing, and cell growth and division. It also discusses dietary sources of zinc and the potential risks of zinc deficiency.

Stephanie Wright

By Stephanie Wright, RN, BSN

Edited by Dr. Dimitar Marinov, MD, MBA, PhD

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Zinc is a powerful mineral that can help you achieve optimal wellness. But are you aware of all the benefits it can provide?

In this blog post, we'll dive into the many health benefits of zinc, including its potential roles in immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis. We'll also explore the best dietary sources of zinc and how to incorporate them into your diet.

Key takeaways

  • Zinc is an essential trace mineral that supports immunity, skin health, vision, and more
  • The best dietary sources of zinc include seafood, red meat, chicken, eggs, and dairy products
  • Zinc supplementation can offer many health benefits but should be taken with caution to avoid toxicity

    What is zinc?

    Found in every cell, zinc is an incredible mineral with many roles in the human body. Keep reading as we break down exactly why boosting zinc levels can support your health and give you glowing skin!

    Zinc is a trace mineral found throughout the body and used for cellular growth and regeneration, fighting free radical damage, strengthening immunity, and promoting healthy skin and eyesight. As an essential mineral, zinc can't be produced in the body and must be consumed daily from diet and/or supplementation.

    Some of the best dietary sources of zinc are seafood, red meat, chicken, eggs, and dairy products. It's also found in legumes, whole grains, dark chocolate, nuts, and seeds – although in a less bioavailable form.

    Health benefits of zinc

    Here are some of the top health benefits of zinc.

    1. Supports immunity and reduces cold symptoms

    Oral zinc is a potential natural remedy for upper respiratory infections; it's a must-have supplement when traveling and during flu season! It appears to be potentially effective at shortening the duration and severity of colds when taken within 24 hours of symptom onset in the form of lozenge4.

    A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that adults who took 45 mg of zinc gluconate for a year had a lower incidence of infection when compared to a placebo group.

    2. Promotes skin health

    A significant portion of zinc is found in the epidermis or upper layer of the skin where it supports healthy cell turnover. One of the many zinc-dependent enzymatic reactions is the production of collagen, the abundant structural protein in the body that promotes wound healing and skin hydration, strength, and elasticity.

    Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties also make zinc ideal for reducing sun damage and soothing inflammatory skin conditions. An interesting 2020 review of 22 studies found that supplementing with zinc improves acne, eczema, and diaper rash.

    3. Supports healthy vision

    Optimal daily zinc intake is necessary for good vision. Found concentrated in the retina, this mineral supports the integrity of eye tissue and may reduce oxidative damage to the delicate structures in the eye. A 2013 review study found that supplementing with zinc may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the most common causes of vision loss worldwide.

    4. Reduces inflammation

    Zinc may have anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce inflammation throughout the body. This may potentially reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

    5. Supports wound healing

    Zinc is necessary for cell growth and division, making it essential for wound healing. It appears to promote tissue repair and may reduce the risk of infections.

    How zinc works

    Zinc is a vital cofactor in hundreds of different metabolic reactions in the human body. In fact, it's the body's second most abundant trace mineral, with the highest levels found in the skin, bones, muscles, brain, liver, eyes, and prostate gland.

    Zinc is one of the most well-known and important minerals that plays a role in supporting a strong immune system. It activates white blood cells called "killer" and "helper" T-lymphocytes or T-cells that work together to destroy foreign pathogens.

    Without sufficient zinc, immunity may become depressed, and you're more likely to succumb to infections. Zinc helps your body fight oxidative damage as it's essential for the formation of an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD).

    It's involved in neutralizing the unstable free radical molecule superoxide by separating it into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide molecules. In a study on healthy volunteers, taking 45 mg of zinc daily resulted in reduced markers of oxidative damage and inflammation.

    This is significant because your cells are constantly bombarded by free radicals from pollution, stress, intense exercise, poor diet, and smoking. Insufficient antioxidant levels lead to cellular damage, premature signs of aging, chronic inflammation, and chronic disease.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    Final thoughts

    In conclusion, zinc is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in numerous aspects of your health, from immunity to skin health and cognitive function. While you can obtain adequate zinc through a well-balanced diet, supplementation may be necessary for some people. Just remember, when it comes to zinc, moderation is key, so don't go "over-zinc" it!

    Sources


    Author

    Stephanie Wright avatar

    Stephanie brings over 13 years of diverse nursing experience to the table, having honed her expertise in critical care, mental health, and utilization management. Her journey as a registered nurse across these various healthcare sectors underscores her adaptability and deep commitment to patient care.

    Fact checker

    Dr. Dimitar Marinov avatar

    Dr. Marinov has years of experience in scientific research and preventive and clinical medicine. His publications in peer-reviewed journals are on nutritional status, physical activity, and musculoskeletal disorders among adolescents.

    At VitaRx, we're not just passionate about our work — we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.


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