See Everything You Need to Know About Zinc
Zinc is an essential nutrient that plays numerous roles in the body. Zinc can be obtained through foods and supplements since the body does not produce zinc. In order to enjoy premium zinc health benefits, you have to supply your body with it through zinc-rich foods or diet and zinc supplements.
Zinc ensures the smooth running of the metabolic processes of the body. Some of the other processes which zinc is useful for include;
- Immune function
- Enzymatic reaction
- Gene expression
- DNA synthesis
- Growth and development
- Wound healing
- Protein synthesis
Zinc is a nutrient that can be found in both plant and animal-based foods. Although some foods do not come naturally with zinc, when they get processed, they get fortified with synthetic zinc.
Research has discovered that zinc is also effective in the smooth running of the immune function. Thus, most pharmaceutical industries have adopted it as an ingredient for the production of certain cold treatments and nasal sprays.
This article elaborates on every aspect of zinc, ranging from its functions to its health benefits, its side effects, and its recommendation and dosage.
Roles of Zinc in the Body
Zinc is present in every cell, and it is an essential nutrient required for the body to function well. Zinc is responsible for the standard running of the activities of about 350 enzymes that are responsible for digestion, nerve function, and metabolism processes.
In addition, zinc is essential in the development and maintenance of the immune system.
For the skin, zinc has proven to be effective in keeping the skin healthy. It aids in the synthetization of protein and DNA.
Cell growth and division are also products of the role of zinc in health. This growth and division of cells are responsible for growth in humans. In other words, zinc is also part of the process that is responsible for our growth.
In addition, zinc is a nutrient that is required to build the senses of smell and taste. This is because the enzymes that are important for building taste and smell senses are dependent on zinc. This is why it is rational to say that you are zinc deficient when you begin to misplace your senses of smell and taste.
Health Benefits of Zinc
According to studies, zinc has numerous health benefits, some of which include;
Immune System Boost
Zinc strengthens the immune system; it is also necessary for immune system response and function. Its deficiency can lead to a slow response of the immune system.
It is also known to stimulate immune system cells and combat stress, especially oxidative stress.
In addition, studies show that taking 80 to 90mg of zinc regularly can reduce your chances of getting a common cold by about 25 to 30%.
With its functions on the immune system, infections and illnesses become history and the immune response skyrockets.
Speeds up Wound Healing
Zinc is a common ingredient that is used in hospitals for the treatment of wounds, irrespective of the size. Some of these wounds include skin injuries and stomach ulcers.
Because zinc is an essential strengthener of the immune system, wounds tend to be short-lived on the skin. They heal up fast as a result of the impact of zinc on the response and function of the immune system.
Zinc deficiency can cause wounds to linger and take time to heal. However, getting zinc-rich diets and zinc-rich supplements, wounds begin to heal up fast.
Studies showed that people who had foot ulcers and were treated with zinc experienced faster healing compared to those whose treatment methods did not include zinc.
Combats Age-Related Illnesses
The human body depreciates in quality as it ages. This explains why aged people are vulnerable to illnesses and may fall sick at any slight opportunity. Some of these age-related illnesses include arthritis, pneumonia, macular degeneration, and certain infections.
Zinc is effective in the reduction of the risks of these illnesses. It is also an immune system booster. In other words, it strengthens the body’s T helper cells, which fight off infections from the body.
Research carried out of old adults of ages 65 and above showed that consuming 45 mg of zinc can reduce the rate at which old adults contract infections by about 60%.
In addition, people who consume zinc supplements regularly have reported improved vision, which leads to the reduction of macular degeneration risks.
Acne is a skin condition that affects everybody at some point in their lives. In fact, according to statistics, acne affects about 94% of the world’s population.
Acne is usually produced when the oil-producing glands of the skin get clogged or obstructed.
Studies found that zinc can be an effective remedy for acne by eliminating the growth of acne cells, reducing inflammation of the outer skin, and regulating excess oil production.
The research found that most people who have acne have a low level of zinc nutrients in their bodies.
Zinc reduces the production of proteins that are responsible for inflammation in different parts of the body. It also reduces oxidative stress, which can be a major trigger of inflammatory protein production in the body.
Oxidative stress causes severe inflammation, which automatically leads to the development of certain chronic illnesses if it is not properly managed and treated. Some of the possible illnesses oxidative stress can cause are; cancer, heart disease, the mental decline, among others.
Studies were carried out on a group of 40-year-olds, and it was discovered that those who consumed at least 40mg of zinc experienced a reduction in their inflammatory markers.
Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency
Although severe symptoms of zinc deficiency are quite rare. However, people with genetic mutation conditions experience it more. Other people who are at risk of experiencing the symptoms of zinc deficiency are;
- Breastfed children whose mothers do not have enough zinc in their body
- Heavy alcohol consumers
- People on immune system suppressing drugs
Some of the symptoms of severe zinc deficiency have been identified below;
- Impaired or stunted growth and development
- Late puberty and sexual maturity
- Severe condition of diarrhea
- Skin rashes
- Certain behavioral issues
- Slow healing of wounds
In contrast to the severe symptoms, mild symptoms of zinc deficiency are mostly found in infants of developing countries, where foods lack proper and essential nutrients.
According to research, about 2 billion people are zinc deficient, and this is due to a poor and unbalanced diet.
Since zinc plays an important immune system function, its deficiency can spell harm, as your chances of getting infected easily increase. 2015 statistics showed that about 450 deaths of children under 5 years old were caused by complicated zinc deficiency.
People who are at higher risks of being zinc deficient include;
- Pregnant women
- Vegans and vegetarians
- Breastfeeding mothers
- People with severe stomach or intestine diseases like Crohn’s disease
- Sickle cell patients
- Heavy alcohol users
- Malnourished people
- People with kidney diseases
- People with bulimia or anorexia
Mild symptoms of zinc deficiency include;
- Reduced immune function
- Reduced appetite
- Mild fertility issues
- Thinning of the hair
- Mood swings
- Slow wound healing
- Dry skin
- The major causes of zinc deficiency are genetics and poor diet.
Food Sources of Zinc
Zinc is a mineral that can be found in both plant and animal-based foods. Eating enough foods with a sufficient amount of zinc can help reduce the risks of zinc deficiency. Some of the zinc-rich food sources include;
- Meat; pork, bison, lamb
- Legumes; lentils, kidney beans, black beans
- Poultry; chicken and turkey
- Fish; flounder, sardine, salmon
- Shellfish; crab, lobster, oyster
- Nuts and seeds; cashew seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Dairy products; yogurt, milk, and cheese
- Some vegetables; kale, mushrooms
- Greens, beets
- Whole grain; brown rice, quinoa, oats
Animal-based zinc-rich foods contain sufficient amounts of zinc that the body finds useful and can absorb.
In contrast to this, plant-based zinc-rich foods contain a sufficient amount of zinc as well, but their zinc contents do not get absorbed easily and efficiently due to the presence of other plant nutrients inhibiting its absorption.
Just like zinc deficiency can cause harm, its excess presence in the body can cause as much harm. Some of the symptoms of zinc toxicity include;
Excess zinc content in the body can also cause the deficiency of other essential nutrients required by the body to function well.
In conclusion, zinc is an essential mineral which the body needs for the smooth running of certain body processes.