What Does Zinc Do for the Body?
- What is zinc good for? This essential trace mineral supports a healthy immune response, wound healing, a healthy inflammatory response, and may reduce the risk of age-related diseases.*
- There are many types of zinc and zinc supplements. Capsules are common, but liquid zinc can allow for easily adjustable dosing and a fuss-free zinc supplement for kids.
- You can also make sure to get zinc-rich foods in your diet, including oysters, beef, pork, chicken, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas, and wild rice.
Most people have heard of zinc, but with the increase in news reports about this mineral’s immune-supportive benefits, more people are asking, “What is zinc good for?” This post will explore everything you need to know about zinc, and answer questions like:
- What is zinc?
- What does zinc do for my body?
- What are the benefits of zinc?
- How do I know if I am low on zinc?
- … and more!
We will also dive into how to best get zinc into your diet, either through food or supplementation, and the other benefits you may not have known about.
Table of Contents:
- What is Zinc?
- 4 Zinc Benefits
- Zinc Deficiency
- What Foods Have Zinc?
- Zinc Supplements
- Efficient Zinc Absorption
What is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential trace mineral. Essential trace minerals are unable to be made in the body and are unable to be stored in the body, which ultimately means that you must obtain zinc from your diet or through supplementation.
Zinc’s role in the body is pretty miraculous. It’s involved in gene expression, protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, wound healing, growth and development, immune function, and over 200 enzymatic reactions.*
Just learning about the role of minerals in your diet? Check out our article on Minerals for the Body.
Types of Zinc
There are many different forms of zinc, with many different uses. Some forms of zinc have been “chelated” (bound to another compound or amino acid) to improve its absorption by the body
Types of Zinc (Zn)
Properties & Use
Used to treat common cold, but studies conducted to back its efficacy are questionable. Found in oral supplements, sprays, and lozenges.
Used primarily in toothpastes and mouthwash to combat plaque, but sometimes as a cold remedy.
Has a long shelf life. Most common OTC zinc supplement. Found in oral supplements, sprays, and lozenges.
Used primarily in sunscreens, or in products intended to treat burns and irritated skin (diaper rash, psoriasis). Poorly absorbed when not being used as a topical.
Proponents of zinc orotate claim that it is the most easily absorbed form of zinc, but studies backing this claim are questionable.
Absorbs especially fast and is most commonly used to treat zinc deficiency.
Used to speed wound healing and in eye drops to ease irritation.
4 Zinc Benefits
Zinc has many benefits for your health.
1. Supports Healthy Immune Function
There are a number of different ways that zinc supports the immune system. Zinc is believed to activate enzymes that break down proteins in viruses and bacteria and to increase the activation of cells responsible for fighting infection.*
Zinc ions are involved in regulating intracellular signaling pathways in innate and adaptive immune cells.* Zinc is critical for the development and functioning of natural killer cells, neutrophils, macrophages, T cells, B cells, phagocytosis, and cytokine production.*
2. Promotes Wound Healing
Zinc plays a role in regulating our body’s wound healing process.* Wound healing is a physiological response to injury that is essential across all tissue systems. Wound repair requires a series of tightly coordinated steps including coagulation, inflammation, angiogenesis, new tissue formation, and extracellular matrix remodeling. Zinc is needed for cell membrane repair, cell proliferation, and growth and immune system function.*
3. Supports a Healthy Inflammation Response
Optimal cellular levels of zinc have been shown to significantly reduce inflammatory cytokines
and oxidative stress markers, and zinc plays a significant role as an antioxidant in the body.* If the body is in a zinc deficient state, there will be an increase of oxidants present, leading to DNA damage. Zinc is also a cofactor for RNA and DNA polymerases, which aid in repair mechanisms.*
Zinc’s ability to reduce inflammation is one of the reasons why people turn to zinc for histamine intolerance, or why others have seen positive results when taking zinc for leaky gut.
4. May Reduce the Risk of Certain Age-Related Diseases
In a large study of over 4,200 people, participants who took 80 mg of zinc (along with daily vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene) significantly reduced the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
In another study, older adults who supplement with zinc experience improved influenza vaccination response and reduced their risk of contracting pneumonia. Zinc is one of the many nutrients that decline as we age (often due to eating less), so it’s important to counteract zinc deficiency and other nutrient deficiencies for healthy aging.
Though rare, zinc deficiency depresses immune function. Even a mild degree of deficit can impair macrophage, neutrophil and natural killer cell activity. Zinc deficiency is far more widespread than zinc toxicity, zinc being relatively harmless. However, indiscriminate use and self-medication without proper guidance may cause inhibition of copper and iron absorption.
Zinc & Copper
One consideration when supplementing zinc involves the interaction between zinc and copper, another essential mineral. The body uses copper in energy production and to support bone, skin, neurological, and cardiovascular health.* Zinc and copper levels can imbalance each other when one is too high or too low in the body. Several research studies have investigated the relationship between zinc intake and its association with a decrease in copper status.
Although copper deficiency is rare, it can result from high levels of zinc intake because of a decreased ability to absorb and use copper from the diet. If you are concerned about your copper levels, our Liquid Copper is an easy way to get added copper.
Zinc Deficiency Symptoms
Zinc is essential for proper growth, proper immune functioning, gut integrity, and sexual development. A deficiency in this mineral can lead to a wide variety of physical ailments. How do you know if you’re low on zinc? Zinc deficiency is characterized by:
- Growth retardation
- Poor immune function
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss
- Decreased sense of smell and taste
- Lack of alertness
- Poor wound healing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Age-related macular degeneration
What Foods Have Zinc?
Zinc is an essential nutrient found in a variety of foods. It is involved in several aspects of cellular metabolism and is required for the catalytic activity of over 200 enzymes. The content of zinc varies greatly depending on the food source. Below is a list of food sources that contain zinc. They are listed from the highest concentrations to the lowest concentrations.
- Beef chuck roast
- Alaskan King crab
- Ground beef
- Pork chop
- Chicken thigh/leg
- Wheat germ
- Wild rice
- Pumpkin seeds
- Kidney beans
- Green peas
Only fifteen percent to forty percent of zinc in food is absorbed by your body. And, as you can see, not many of these foods are easy to prepare — and even fewer of them are going to sit at the top of your kid’s list of favorite foods. If you are struggling to get the recommended amount of zinc through your diet, supplementation can help. This is especially true of liquid zinc for kids, which can help even the pickiest of eaters get the immune and growth support they need.
Recommended Dosage - How Much Zinc Per Day?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc is 11 mg/d for adults over eighteen years.
Although the RDA is the amount needed to prevent a deficiency, it’s not necessarily a therapeutic amount. In a time of viral infection, increase your dosage. The tolerable upper limit for zinc is 40 mg/d in the same population, but even that is often exceeded in active infection. Always consult your doctor before taking high doses of zinc.
In most instances, the better that a mineral is absorbed, the fewer the side effects, which are often GI symptoms such as constipation or diarrhea. However, we recommend taking zinc supplements (in any form, liquid otherwise) with food because zinc is notorious for causing nausea on an empty stomach.
Efficient Zinc Absorption with BodyBio’s Liquid Zinc
Zinc is an essential trace element and critical for our health. The more of a mineral you absorb into your bloodstream, the less of it that ends up in your stool, and the greater the opportunity for it to do its work in your body.
Because of its nano-particle size, BodyBio Liquid Zinc has the capacity to enter systemic circulation without having to be broken down by the gut. In other words our liquid zinc bypasses absorption problems and offers a higher dose in a smaller quantity. You can adjust dose easily without having to halve a pill or capsule, and reach the stomach faster.
All of BodyBio’s supplements are founded on research and tested for efficacy. Get started supporting a healthier immune system, wound healing, and nutrient absorption with zinc today!*
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