30 Sec Answer: Zinc is essential for human health, as it helps with the proper functioning of enzymes and hormones, aids in wound healing and boosts the immune system. It can also help protect against oxidative damage and reduce inflammation.
Zinc is an important mineral that is found naturally in many foods. It has several vital functions in our body including aiding enzyme reactions, aiding metabolism, contributing to normal growth and development, supporting healthy immunity, helping wounds heal properly, and providing antioxidant protection. Although zinc deficiencies are rare in developed countries, it is still important to consume adequate amounts of zinc-rich foods or take a supplement when necessary to ensure optimal health.
What is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential trace element that humans need for numerous bodily functions. It plays a role in protein synthesis, cell division, wound healing, brain function and more. It is involved in many metabolic pathways and acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals. Zinc also works with other vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system strong.
Where Can You Find Zinc?
The best sources of zinc are animal proteins such as beef, pork, poultry, eggs and seafood (especially oysters). Other good sources include legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Fortified cereals and some dairy products are also good sources of zinc. Vegetarians may need to take a zinc supplement to ensure they are getting enough.
How Much Zinc Do We Need?
Most people require 8-11 milligrams of zinc per day depending on their age and gender; pregnant women may need more. For those who don’t eat enough meat or fortified foods it might be necessary to take a zinc supplement or multi-vitamin containing zinc to meet their needs.
Health Benefits of Zinc
There are many benefits associated with consuming sufficient amounts of zinc:
Improves Immune System Function
Zinc helps regulate immune system cells and strengthens the body’s natural defense against infection by stimulating the activity of certain white blood cells which fight off foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Studies have shown that taking zinc supplements can reduce the duration of common colds by up to 33%.
Aids Wound Healing
Zinc helps speed up wound healing by promoting collagen formation and increasing tissue strength. In one study involving burn victims, those given supplemental doses of zinc healed twice as fast as those who weren’t given any extra zinc. This makes sense since collagen production increases during times of injury or trauma due to increased demand from the body for more tissue repair materials such as amino acids which contain high levels of zinc.
Promotes Healthy Skin
In addition to its role in wound healing, studies suggest that taking regular doses of zinc may improve skin health by reducing inflammation and promoting tissue regeneration. One study showed that patients with acne were able to clear their skin after taking daily doses of 30mg of zinc sulfate over 12 weeks compared with just 6% improvement in the placebo group. The same study showed that there was also an increase in collagen production among those who took the supplement compared with the placebo group indicating improved overall skin quality as well.
May Help Treat Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition that affects millions worldwide and can lead to vision loss if not treated promptly. Recent research suggests that taking regular doses of zinc may help slow down the progression of AMD symptoms thanks to its powerful antioxidant properties which can help protect eye tissues from damage caused by free radicals which often contribute to AMD onset and worsening symptoms. Taking around 80mg per day could significantly reduce AMD symptoms according to one study so it may be worth speaking with your doctor about whether this could be beneficial for you if you have already been diagnosed with AMD or at risk of developing it in future years due to family history etc.
Reduces Inflammation & Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the number of free radicals in your body and the amount of antioxidants available to combat them leading to increased inflammation which can cause a wide range of chronic diseases if left unchecked. Fortunately research shows that taking regular doses of zinc may help combat oxidative stress by boosting levels of antioxidants such as glutathione thereby reducing inflammation throughout your body which could potentially reduce your risk for various chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer among others.
Boosts Brain Function & Memory Retention
Studies suggest that low levels of zinc could play a role in cognitive decline so ensuring you get enough through diet or supplementation could be beneficial for preserving memory function over time particularly amongst older individuals who are at greater risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease due to age-related factors such as decreased nutrient absorption from food etc.. Additionally zinc appears to play a role in nerve transmission processes so ensuring you get enough could help boost mental performance by allowing faster reaction times between neurons resulting in better decision making ability overall plus quicker reflexes which can come in handy especially during sports activities!
Signs & Symptoms Of Zinc Deficiency
If you suspect you may not be getting enough zinc then it’s important to seek medical advice immediately because prolonged deficiency can lead to serious complications such as weakened immunity, slow wound healing, poor appetite or difficulty gaining weight (in children), hair loss, stunted growth (in children) and impaired senses such as taste or smell etc.. However these symptoms are usually only seen with severe cases so chances are you won’t develop any problems unless your intake falls way below what’s recommended on a consistent basis over time so just keep an eye on how much you’re getting each day via food or supplementation if needed!
Foods High In Zinc
Some great sources include oysters which contain more than 74 milligrams per 3 ounces; red meat contains 7 milligrams per 3 ounces; chickpeas provide 2 milligrams per 1/2 cup; pumpkin seeds contain 2 milligrams per 1/4 cup; almonds offer 1 milligram per ounce; cashews contain 1 milligram per ounce; dark chocolate provides 0.9 milligrams per square inch; yogurt contains 0.7 milligrams per 6 ounces; spinach offers 0.6 milligrams per cooked cup; lentils provide 0.5 milligrams per 1/2 cup cooked; quinoa offers 0.4 milligrams per cooked cup; mushrooms supply 0.3 milligrams per 1/2 cup cooked etc.. As mentioned earlier vegetarians should consider taking a supplement since plant based foods generally aren’t very rich sources compared with animal proteins but luckily there are plenty options available nowadays both online & offline making it easy for anyone regardless dietary preference/needs!
Possible Side Effects Of Too Much Zinc
Although excess consumption isn’t common since most people don’t get near the upper limit intake recommendations set by experts it’s still possible so just make sure not too exceed 40mg/day otherwise side effects like nausea vomiting diarrhea headaches fatigue cramps abdominal pain & even reduced copper absorption could occur all which can potentially lead other problems if left unchecked! So again just be aware & make sure stay within safe limits – if unsure always speak with qualified healthcare provider first before taking anything new just case!
To conclude, although most people don’t suffer from a lack of zinc due its presence in many everyday foods there are still certain groups who may need additional supplementation either through diet modification or supplementation alone egs vegans vegetarians elderly individuals who struggle absorb nutrients adequately etc.. Additionally research has shown multiple potential benefits from keeping levels within recommended ranges which include improved immunity wound healing skin quality reduced inflammation & improved cognitive performance along many others making