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Zinc sources, health benefits and uses

Saturday, September 23, 2017 by

Zinc is an essential mineral that is contained in most over-the-counter mineral and multivitamin supplements, and is used therapeutically in higher doses because of its ability to block copper absorption. Next to iron, it is the most common mineral that is found in the body and is contained in every cell.

The recommended daily intake of zinc for adults is around 15 milligrams (mg) per day, with the average dietary zinc intake being around 14 to 20 mg a day. Increased levels of dietary zinc in the body can result in decreased levels of copper and iron absorption, a reduction in the activities of many essential enzymes in various tissues, and possibly, anemia.

The elderly, people with anorexia, people with very restricted diets, people who have malabsorption issues and are sick from celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, and alcoholics may find themselves facing zinc deficiency. Taking a multivitamin, plus eating a healthy diet, can serve to replenish your lost zinc storage.

Zinc is best absorbed when taken with a meal containing protein. The richest sources of zinc include red meats; cheese (gouda, ricotta, Swiss); shrimp, crab, and other shellfish; legumes (peanuts, black-eyed peas, lima beans, pinto beans, and soybeans); brewer’s yeast; green beans; cooked greens; miso; mushrooms; oysters; poultry; pumpkins; sunflower seeds; tahini; tofu; and whole grains.

Zinc sulfate is zinc’s least expensive form, although it was said to cause stomach upset. Zinc citrate can also be tried if you are afraid of getting an upset stomach. Nasal sprays containing zinc are also available. If you take zinc supplements, you must also take copper supplements. Less than 40 mg of zinc per day is safe to take for a prolonged period of time, researchers said.

However, overdosing on zinc is said to cause headache, alcohol intolerance, anemia, dizziness, drowsiness, hallucinations, increased sweating, and loss of muscle coordination. High dosages of zinc can also result in increased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol in the body.

Medicinal uses for zinc

Zinc can serve as a maintenance therapy for Wilson’s disease, which is a rare genetic disorder that causes copper poisoning in the body.

Zinc is good for the skin. It is ingested to help the body heal wounds. Also, evidence exists that using a topical form of zinc along with a topical form of erythromycin (red blood cells) might be helpful in curing acne.

Zinc has antioxidant properties. It can help fight harmful free radicals that cause premature aging, as well as the development of chronic health issues such as cancer and heart disease.

Zinc can treat sickle-cell disease, which is a disorder that negatively impacts the hemoglobin, or the molecule in red blood cells that facilitate the transport of oxygen throughout the cells in the body.

Zinc contributes to insulin sensitivity.

Body systems supported by zinc

Zinc is good for the cardiovascular system. It aids in the process of hemolysis, which is the rupturing of red blood cells, thereby releasing their contents (cytoplasm) into surrounding fluid (for instance, blood plasma), and absorbing the liberated hemoglobin. It also influences blood clotting, which is good to stop a body part’s excessive bleeding.

Zinc is good for the immune system. Zinc acetate or gluconate lozenges can help you get rid of a cold faster. In one study, people who had a cold took either a lozenge with 13.3 milligrams (mg) of zinc gluconate or a placebo. People who took the zinc were cured of their coughing, runny nose, and sore throat.

There are studies that suggest that taking zinc supplements can reduce the risk of getting a cold. A study concluded that elderly people in a nursing home who took zinc supplements were less likely to develop pneumonia, had fewer antiobiotic prescriptions, and had fewer days of antibiotic use.

Also, some studies show that people who have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) but take zinc supplements have fewer infections as a result of their disease, have a better immune response, and gain more weight.

Zinc is good for the endocrine system. It provides for optimum thyroid function, which is to ensure that the metabolism processes in your body are working in fine order.

Zinc is good for the ocular system. It staves off the onset of age-related macular degeneration that happens when the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision starts to break down. According to the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, people who currently suffer form macular degeneration can arrest the deterioration by taking beta-carotene (15 mg), copper (two mg), vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin E (400 mg), and zinc (80 mg).

Zinc is good for the nervous system. It can treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by decreasing hyperactivity, impaired socialization, and impulsivity in children. There’s a caveat to this, however. Zinc is most effective on children who have a high body mass index and low levels of free fatty acids in their blood.

Zinc is good for the reproductive, muscular, and skeletal systems.

Where to learn more


There are studies that suggest that taking zinc supplements can reduce the risk of getting a cold in the first place.

Zinc is good for the endocrine, ocular, nervous, reproductive, muscular, and skeletal systems.

Zinc contributes to insulin sensitivity.

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