Zinc is an indispensable mineral that mediates many chemical reactions inside the body.
Human cells cannot produce zinc naturally, which leaves dietary intake as the exclusive source for this mineral. Supplementing your body with zinc can be very beneficial. Conversely, its deficiency leads to dire consequences.
Ensuring that you are getting enough zinc through your diet is fundamental to prevent health problems and optimize the function of your organs.
In this article, we will cover the health benefits of zinc supplementation, as well as a few side effects of low levels of this mineral.
The Benefits of Zinc
1. Optimizes the immune system
Zinc mediates the production and signalling of immune cells, which gives it impressive immune-boosting properties.
In a 2017 meta-analysis, researchers concluded that zinc shortens the duration of the common cold by 33%.
Another study found that zinc lowers the risk of respiratory tract infections in the elderly population.
2. Accelerates the healing process
Repairing tissue damage is a natural process that takes a substantial amount of time
As collagen gets produced and deposited to replace the dead tissue, several components are necessary, including vitamin C and zinc
The cells require zinc to produce and deposit collagen fibres. In fact, many hospitals use zinc supplements as part of their protocol to treat burn patients.
People with low levels of zinc in their blood may suffer from issues when it comes to scarring. Interestingly, many scarring creams contain large amounts of zinc to help your cells repair the damage.
3. Dampens inflammation and oxidative stress
Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are the hallmarks of several debilitating diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and cancer.
The good news is that zinc possesses potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, which may decrease the risk of these illnesses.
We already covered the detrimental effects of inflammation and oxidative stress on the human body.
Learn more about these two processes by clicking on this link.
There are several signs and symptoms that could indicate a zinc deficiency, including:
- Dry skin
- Mood swings
- Thinning hair and hair loss
- Impaired wound healing
- Fertility issues
How can you reach your daily intake
The optimal way to reach your daily intake of zinc is by eating a varied diet that consists of meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, dairy, and legumes, which are very rich in this mineral.
Talk to your nutritionist if you suspect zinc deficiency.
We should note that consuming too much zinc may produce counterproductive results (more on that later).
Side effects and warnings
One of the factors to consider is that zinc is an antagonist of copper, and large amounts of zinc may course cooper to deplete.
We should note that copper – along with iron – is essential for the formation of new blood cells, deposition of calcium in bones, and protection of blood vessels and nerves.
For this reason, you need to balance the intake of your zinc to prevent messing up your mineral status.
For instance, consuming 60 mg of zinc can potentially harm you.
According to one study, 80 mg of zinc per day may lead to several adverse effects, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramps
Taking too much zinc for a long time may also lead to low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol).
Since zinc supplements flooded the market, and everyone seems to be taking them, you should keep in mind that optimal zinc intake ranges between 10–15 mg per day.
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“If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider”
“If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention”
The different types of zinc
In general, there are seven types of zinc supplements on the market. Depending on your health status, you might need to take a specific form of zinc.
Here is what you need to know about the different types of zinc:
1. Zinc gluconate
Zinc gluconate is the most common and affordable form of zinc. This form is often part of cold remedies. However, zinc does support your immune system enough to reduce the duration and severity of the common cold.
2. Zinc acetate
Zinc acetate is the go-to supplement to treat deficiencies. It is also another common over-the-counter ingredient of cold remedies. Research
also supports its effectiveness in treating the common cold.
3. Zinc sulfate
This form primarily treats zinc deficiency; therefore, you will often find zinc sulfate in the hospital setting to address severely low levels of zinc.
Zinc sulfate is also a common element used to treat different dermatological conditions, such as acne.
4. Zinc picolinate
Zinc picolinate is the best option for those with slow metabolism and malabsorption. The problem with many supplements is our ability – or inability – to absorb them. This form of zinc has a higher bio availability than others.
5. Zinc orotate
As the name implies, this form is the result of combining zinc with orotic acid. The latter is incorporated in many supplements to boost absorption and ensure the transportation of the mineral.
6. Zinc citrate
In general, we find zinc citrate in toothpaste because it effectively eradicates the bacteria of the oral cavity, which can freshen your breath. This type of zinc does not have a metallic taste.
7. Zinc oxide
This form is used in topical creams or balms to treat minor skin irritations like diaper rash or chapped skin or suppositories to help alleviate rectal discomfort.
Zinc absorption in this form is significantly lower than others, so it is not an ideal choice for oral supplements.
Zinc is an essential mineral that interferes with a myriad of metabolic reactions, making it indispensable for our cells.
Hopefully, this article managed to highlight the health benefits provided by zinc supplementation and the side effects of its deficiency.
If you still have questions or concerns about zinc, please share your thoughts down below. Also, make sure to visit our vitamin shop by clicking on this link.