Everything You Need to Know About Zinc
What is Zinc?
Found in every cell; zinc is an incredible mineral with many roles in the human body.
Keep reading as we break down exactly why boosting zinc levels can support your health and give you glowing skin!
Zinc is a trace mineral found throughout the body and used for cellular growth and regeneration, fighting free radical damage, strengthening immunity, and promoting healthy skin and eyesight. As an essential mineral, zinc can't be synthesized in the body and must be consumed daily from diet and/or supplementation. Some of the best dietary sources of zinc are seafood, red meat, chicken, eggs, and dairy products. It's also found in legumes, whole grains, dark chocolate, nuts, and seeds – although in a less bioavailable form.
How Zinc Works
Zinc is a vital cofactor in hundreds of different metabolic reactions in the human body. In fact, it's the body's second most abundant trace mineral, with the highest levels found in the skin, bones, muscles, brain, liver, eyes, and prostate gland.
Zinc is one of the most well-known and important minerals for supporting a strong immune system. It activates white blood cells called "killer" and "helper" T-lymphocytes or T-cells that work together to destroy foreign pathogens. Without sufficient zinc, immunity becomes depressed, and you're more likely to succumb to infections (1).
Zinc helps your body fight oxidative damage as it's essential for the formation of an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD). It's involved in neutralizing the unstable free radical molecule superoxide by separating it into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide molecules. In a study on healthy volunteers, taking 45 mg of zinc daily resulted in reduced markers of oxidative damage and inflammation (2). This is significant because your cells are constantly bombarded by free radicals from pollution, stress, intense exercise, poor diet, and smoking. Insufficient antioxidant levels lead to cellular damage, premature signs of aging, chronic inflammation, and chronic disease.
Risk for a Zinc Deficiency
Are you experiencing frequent infections, fatigue, acne, slow wound healing, changes in smell and taste, or poor concentration? If so, you'll benefit from taking a daily zinc supplement to boost your levels.
The recommended daily intake of zinc to avoid deficiency varies according to age and sex. Women typically need 8 mg daily (or 12 mg when pregnant or lactating) and men require around 11 mg per day (3). However, you may need even more for optimal well-being.
Zinc is most commonly obtained from animal products, so vegans and vegetarians are at increased risk of low zinc levels. Additionally, factors like aging, digestive disorders, pregnancy, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and certain medications increase your risk for zinc deficiency.
Supports Immunity and Reduces Cold Symptoms
Oral zinc is one of the best natural remedies for upper respiratory infections; it's a must-have supplement when traveling and during flu season! It appears to be particularly effective at shortening the duration and severity of colds when taken within 24 hours of symptom onset (4).
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults who took 45 mg of zinc gluconate for a year had a lower incidence of infection when compared to a placebo group (5).
Promotes Skin Health
A significant portion of zinc is found in the epidermis or upper layer of the skin where it supports healthy cell turnover (6). One of the many zinc-dependent enzymatic reactions is the synthesis of collagen, the abundant structural protein in the body that promotes wound healing and skin hydration, strength, and elasticity.
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties also make zinc ideal for reducing sun damage and soothing inflammatory skin conditions. An interesting 2020 review of 22 studies found that supplementing with zinc improves acne, eczema, and diaper rash (7).
Supports Healthy Vision
Optimal daily zinc intake is necessary for good vision. Found concentrated in the retina, this mineral supports the integrity of eye tissue and may reduce oxidative damage to the delicate structures in the eye.
A 2013 review study found that supplementing with zinc may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the most common causes of vision loss worldwide (8).
Make Zinc Part of Your Daily Diet
Okay you knew it was coming... time for a shameless plug. Do you think the benefits of adding zinc to your daily diet could help? Create a personalized daily vitamin pack that includes zinc and any other vitamins, minerals or supplements you think could help. Start by adding zinc to your Kit here!