Zinc goes to the back of the line when things are alphabetized, but when it comes to your health, zinc belongs at the front of the class. It is a trace mineral that can be found in cells throughout your body, and it is second only to iron in terms of its abundance in your body.
It should therefore be no surprise that zinc's many contributions to areas of your health would be as plentiful as they are. It provides a reliable boost to your immune system and healthy immune function, has shown in studies to help shorten the length of the common cold, plays a key role in your body's cell division and growth, plays a vital supportive role in wound healing, and is instrumental during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood for the proper growth and development of the body, per medlineplus.gov
A Brief History of Zinc’s Healthy Influence
Although zinc's essential role for plants was identified way back in 1869 and then in 1934 for experimental animals, per National Institutes of Health (NIH) , it wasn't until 1961 that the levels of zinc found in the body was singled out for its influence in growth and development of the human body. That's when it was discovered that a deficiency in zinc levels was a key contributing factor to a syndrome of anemia, hypogonadism, and dwarfism, as evidenced with a 21-year-old Iranian farmer.
Since that determination was made, further research has uncovered additional biochemical and clinical aspects related to zinc nutrition. These discoveries have significantly bolstered interest in the trace mineral. Zinc is now known for its ability to invigorate the actions of at least 100 different enzymes, per medicalnewstoday.com , and it doesn't take much to make zinc go to town in making good things happen. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for zinc is 11 milligrams per day for men and eight milligrams a day for women, pregnant women the RDA is 11 milligrams per day these RDA's can bee found through foods or through nutitional supplementation with dietary supplements.
Signs and Symptoms of a Zinc Deficiency
Following, per medlineplus.gov, are some indications that your body is deficient in zinc, meaning it might be time to start ramping up your intake:
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Diminished sense of taste and smell
- Slow-healing wounds
- Trouble seeing in the dark
- Skin sores/ulcers
Zinc’s Food Sources and Its Roles in Your Body
If you have a zinc deficiency, zinc is available in nutritional zinc supplement form and can also be found in various foods, most abundantly in foods sourced from animal meats, such as beef, chicken, and lamb, as well as from beans, nuts, fish, oysters, whole grain cereals, and dairy products, per medicalnewstoday.com.
Per docsopinion.com, as you digest your zinc-containing food, zinc is released in the form of free ions. Most of those are absorbed by your small intestine and transported through your body to body tissues and fluids via a transport protein known as albumin. As this is going on, your body regulates its levels of zinc by making adjustments involving intestinal absorption and excretion.
Following are some of zinc’s best-known health benefits for your body, provided you are consuming sufficient amounts to meet your body’s needs. As always, if you have any questions about any of those possible benefits of zinc, or to be checked for a zinc shortage if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, be sure to discuss them with your doctor:
- Immune function. This might be zinc’s best-known role as a health aid, bolstering your immunity. Per medicalnewstoday.com, citing the European Journal of Immunology, zinc plays a part in activating your T cells (T lymphocytes). T cells are involved in controlling immune responses while attacking cells that have been infected.
- Healing wounds. Oral zinc supplements, per mayoclinic.org, could benefit people with a zinc deficiency and suffering from skin ulcers. Additionally, zinc-based ointments applied topically can help thwart or treat conditions such as diaper rash and sunburn.
- Fertility. Per medicalnewstoday.com, an inadequate intake of zinc has been found to be a risk factor for low sperm quality as well as male infertility.
- Colds. Several studies mentioned at docsopinion.com showed that zinc lozenges can reduce the duration and severity of colds.
- Diarrhea. A study referenced at medicalnewstoday.com followed a Bangladesh nationwide public health campaign for increased zinc use for diarrhea among children. It showed that a 10-day regimen of zinc tablets proved not only successful in treating diarrhea but also suppressing future such bouts.
- Macular degeneration. Per Mayo Clinic, research has shown that zinc taken orally might be able to slow the progression of this eye disease.
- Cognition. Research done at the University of Toronto, per medicalnewstoday.com, posits that zinc helps neurons communicate among each other, in the process promoting the formation of memories and our learning capabilities.
Major Forms of Zinc Supplements
When it comes to dietary supplements and zinc supplementation, not all zinc's are alike leaving many to ask what is the best supplement for zinc? from zinc acetate to zinc sulfate, you'll see quite a few different types of zinc dietary supplements on the market. The two biggest difference is yield volume and absorbsion rates. Here are some of the types of zinc's on the market in a rough ranking by absorbsion rates:
- Zinc Picolinate
- Zinc Acetate
- Zinc Citrate
- Zinc Gluconate (chelated)
- Zinc Monomethionine
- Zinc Glycinate
- Zinc Orotate
- Zinc Sulfate
- Zinc Oxide
All of these forms can be used in zinc supplementation and can be found in dietary supplements (oral zinc, nasal zinc, and topical zinc) and have been associated with different benefits. Zinc Acetate is commonly found in zinc lozenges that are targeted towards the common cold. Zinc Gluconate is chelated (bonding with another element such as an amino acid) to help increase it's aborbsion into your body. Dietary supplements with Zinc Sulfate are focused on providing an increased bioavailability for your body due to it's water soluble state, per the Chicago Tribune. The best way to determine what zinc supplementation is right for you or any dietary supplements are best for you is to consult your healthcare provider regarding the different options available.