Top 10 Zinc Benefits
Zinc is a mineral with many different vital roles to play in your body. But why is zinc good for you exactly? This blog looks at all the various benefits of zinc, its role in our health and when you may benefit from a zinc supplement.
What Is Zinc?
First, let’s look at zinc facts. Zinc is a trace mineral – the second most abundant in your body after iron. It plays many different roles in your body but seems to be particularly important in:
- Fertility and Reproduction
- Immune Health
- Natural Beauty – supporting hair, skin, and nails
- Bone Health
- Brain Health
- Supporting your sense of taste and smell.
The reason why zinc impacts so many diverse areas of our health is because it is involved in the function of over 300 hundred enzymes in your body. Enzymes are catalysts; they cause reactions to proceed in the body, such as DNA replication, metabolism, and cell production. Here are the top 10 roles for zinc in the body.
Why Do We Need Zinc?
1. Zinc in Fertility
Zinc can help to support healthy fertility and reproduction in both men and women.
In men, zinc benefits include supporting healthy production of testosterone. Studies have also shown that low zinc levels could be associated with poor sperm count and an increased risk of infertility. Combining zinc with selenium, another trace mineral which has also been linked to healthy sperm production, could a be a great idea for men who are wanting to support their fertility.
2. Zinc For Healthy Pregnancy and Reproduction
The benefits of zinc for women include supporting ovulation and normal hormone function. It is also required for cell division and DNA reproduction, meaning that, as well as supporting fertility, zinc could have benefits for health throughout pregnancy.
3. Zinc For Immune Health
Zinc also plays an important role in the development of vital immune cells, including our Natural Killer cells and Macrophages. Low levels of zinc can also affect communication within the immune system. This is why zinc is important for supporting a healthy immune system.
4. Zinc For Acne
Zinc benefits also include helping to support healthy skin, and it has been widely studied for its potential benefits for people suffering from acne.
Because of its role in hormone balance, testosterone balance and sperm production, zinc is in high demand in the teenage body – particularly in boys. It is thought that low zinc levels, due to the extra demands during puberty, is one of the reasons why some teenagers struggle with acne.
Skin health supplements which include zinc and vitamin A (another widely studied nutrient for skin health) could be the ideal product for teenage problem skin.
5. Zinc For Stretch Marks
Because of its important role in the health of the skin and replication of healthy new cells, zinc has gained a bit of a reputation as a nutrient which may help to prevent stretch marks. It is not thought that taking zinc supplements would be helpful once the stretch marks have developed, but certainly, ensuring a healthy daily intake of zinc could be useful in prevention and help to keep the skin looking healthy.
6. Zinc For Healing
Zinc helps to support the metabolism of proteins and plays a role in new tissue growth. On top of this, it supports the function of the immune system, helping to fight infections. All of this means that, for those whose skin is slow to heal after injury, zinc could be the missing link.
7. Zinc For Healthy Hair and Nails
Because of its role in cell reproduction, zinc benefits also include supporting the growth of healthy hair and nails. Hair loss and weak nails have been associated with zinc deficiency. When looking for supplements to support healthy hair and nails, look for a combination which includes zinc, alongside biotin – another well-known nutrient for healthy hair.
8. Zinc in Bone Health
Everyone knows that calcium and vitamin D are important nutrients for supporting healthy bones; however, fewer people are aware of the important impact zinc can have on bone health. Studies have shown that zinc plays a role in the building of healthy bone tissue. In studies carried out on postmenopausal women, it was shown that adding trace minerals like zinc to calcium and magnesium improved the efficacy of the supplement.
9. Zinc in Brain Health
Zinc seems to play a role in the transmission of messages within the brain. It also plays a role in supporting cognitive function. This means that zinc can help to support learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problems solving, decision making and attention span. In one study, they showed that taking zinc supplements for 12 weeks provided improvements in cognitive performance, with better responses and recall.
10. Zinc For Taste and Smell
Zinc deficiency has been associated with a poor sense of taste and smell. In fact, one of the tests a nutritional therapist like myself will carry out on our clients is known as the zinc taste test. To see if a client has adequate zinc, we may ask them to chew a zinc tablet. If they spit it out and tell us it is disgusting, they are fine and do not need to take zinc. If they can not taste it, and say it simply seems a bit chalky, a zinc supplement will be one of the first things we suggest!
As we can see, the benefits of zinc are numerous in the body. Zinc plays so many different roles in supporting our health, and it is one nutrient we should not overlook when thinking about how to stay as healthy as possible. So, how likely is it that we are getting enough of it in our diet, and could a zinc supplement benefit?
Zinc in the Diet
The best food sources of zinc include:
- Red meat
- Chickpeas, Beans and Lentils
- Nuts and Seeds
- Dairy Foods (Milk, Cheese, Yogurt)
- Egg Yolk
People who are not including these foods in their diet on a daily basis (so teenagers with their dedication to beige foods!) could be at risk of low zinc levels and may find a zinc supplement benefits them.
Zinc Supplement Benefits
If you do struggle to intake enough zinc from your diet, a zinc supplement will help ensure your body is topped up with the amount of zinc it needs.
Zinc is available as a supplement in many different strengths and forms, but Zinc Picolinate is generally regarded as one of the best forms, as it provides a good level of zinc and is easy for the body to recognise, break down and absorb.
Written By Jenny Logan DNMed. (Jenny is a Nutritional Therapist who has worked with clients in Health Foods Stores and Private Clinics for over 20 years.)