Knowing everything you can about your nutrients can help you live a longer and healthier life. In this guide, we’re going to look at what you should know about zinc. What is zinc good for? Why would you use a zinc supplement? What about foods that contain zinc? We’ll go over all of that and more.
What is Zinc?
Zinc is an element on the periodic table with the atomic number 30 and the symbol Zn. It is a metal that shares a few similarities with magnesium, which is another metal that is an essential nutrient. Most of the zinc that is currently refined is mined in North America, Asia, and Australia.
Throughout human history, zinc has been used for many different applications, including the creation of brass, which is an alloy of zinc and copper. While zinc had been discovered by Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans, the first time that it was produced in large quantities was in India in the 12th century.
What Does Zinc Do for the Body?
Boosted Immune System Functionality
Zinc supplement benefits include smoother functioning of the immune system. This is because zine is required by your immune system’s cells so that they can function properly. Zinc also plays a key role in cell signals that trigger when our bodies mount an immune response.
Along with helping immune cells function, zinc can also act as an antioxidant, cutting down on the oxidative stress that your body experiences. Some studies have shown that taking about 80 mg of zinc per day is capable of reducing the duration of the common cold by up to one third.
Helps Reduce the Risk of Diseases When Older
Zinc may also be able to help cut down on the chances of older people contracting diseases. Because of how zinc can reduce oxidative stress, scientists have hypothesized that it may be able to help stop diseases like AMD, pneumonia, and more generalized infections in elderly populations.
One study showed that zinc can reduce the risk of pneumonia, improve the uptake of flu vaccines, and improve mental performance in older adults. Another study went over how zinc supplements could help older adults reduce their risk of infection by up to 66%.
A further study showed that taking zinc alongside other antioxidant supplements reduced the chances of macular degeneration occurring due to AMD.
Quicker Wound Healing
One of the more well-known zinc benefits is its use as a form of wound treatment. Zinc has long been used to help treat ulcers, burns, and other injuries to the skin. This is due to the role that zinc plays in synthesizing collagen, which is a connective protein that helps skin heal after it has been damaged.
One study determined that zinc could help participants heal diabetic skin ulcers. This study featured 60 participants, and it determined that 200 mg per day over the course of a 12-week period resulted in much smaller foot ulcers than people who were in the control group.
Magnesium and Zinc Benefits
Zinc and magnesium are a common combination when it comes to supplements, much like vitamin C and zinc tablets. These two are so common because of how they interact with each other in the right doses. We’ve already mentioned that zinc and magnesium are chemically similar, and that leads to them doing similar things in the human body.
While zinc makes it harder to absorb magnesium, it only does so when taken in large doses of over 140 mg per day. On the other hand, magnesium is able to help your body regulate your levels of zinc, ensuring that they remain at healthy levels by controlling zinc’s bioavailability in your system.
Foods High in Zinc
Red meat is one of the best sources of zinc, with a 100 g serving of ground beef containing about 44% of the daily value of the mineral. Another good source of zinc is shellfish, with six oysters providing nearly 300% of the daily recommended value of zinc.
If you’re trying to stick to a vegan diet, then you’ll be happy to hear that lentils and chickpeas contain a large amount of zinc. 100 grams of lentils has about 12% of the daily value of zinc, and soaking legumes like these can increase zinc’s bioavailability.
How Much Zinc per Day?
The recommended amount of zinc that you should have per day is about 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. However, if a woman is breastfeeding or pregnant, it’s recommended that she consumes about 11 mg of zinc per day.
Zinc Deficiency Symptoms
One of the most common signs of zinc deficiency is a change in the skin that may resemble eczema, specifically around the mouth and hands. Other chances include different colored nails, hair loss, and a susceptibility to infections.