Table of Contents
- Benefits of Zinc
- Vital for Growth and Cell Division
- Necessary for Immunity System
- Key Ingredient in Protein Synthesis
- Vital for Fertility
- Crucial for Strong Bones
- Imperative for Smell and Taste
- Basic for Skin, Hair and Nails
- Important for Healing Wounds
- Critical for Vision
- Mandatory for Memory and Cognition
- Significant for Common Cold
- Fundamental for Athletic Performance and Strength
- Crucial for Cardiovascular System
- Important for Detoxification
- Necessary for Mood and Avoiding Depression
- Where Do We Get Zinc From?
Zinc is a very important mineral for human health that even a small deficiency can cause serious health problems. It is found in every tissue in the body, and we all need zinc (children, adolescents, pregnant women, athletes, vegetarians, and the elderly).
Given that it plays a crucial role in more than 300 enzymes in the human body, getting recommended amounts of zinc each day is of immense importance for everybody.
Benefits of Zinc
These are the key benefits of zinc one should be familiar with to maintain health.
Vital for Growth and Cell Division
Zinc is one of the most important minerals during pregnancy because cells of the growing fetus are rapidly dividing. Zinc is mandatory for activating growth – height, weight and bone development in infants, children and teenagers.
Studies have confirmed zinc’s role in avoiding congenital abnormalities and pre-term delivery.
Necessary for Immunity System
Lack of zinc can influence the immune system, making you more likely to get sick. Getting recommended amounts of zinc can help keep the immune system strong and build a strong defense against infections.
If you do not get zinc regularly, you can also experience problems with wound healing.
Key Ingredient in Protein Synthesis
Zinc plays a crucial role in maintaining lean muscle mass. Zinc deficiency can lead to poor appetite and unintentional weight loss because our body needs zinc to make protein.
Vital for Fertility
For both women and men, zinc is vital for fertility. In men, zinc protects the prostate gland from infections and enlargement (prostatic hypertrophy). Zinc also helps maintain sperm count and mobility and normal level of serum testosterone.
In women, zinc helps treat menstrual problems and alleviates the symptoms that are associated with premenstrual syndrome.
Crucial for Strong Bones
Irregular intakes of zinc are associated with lower bone density.
Zinc is especially important for women because regular daily doses of zinc prevent osteoporosis in women who have gone through menopause.
As mentioned before, zinc is necessary for strong bones in infants and children as well.
Imperative for Smell and Taste
The cells responsible for smell and taste are zinc-reliant. Those cells are specialized cells that depend on zinc for their growth and maintenance.
Studies showed that increasing levels of zinc could heighten a person’s senses of taste and smell. Influencing appetite and taste preferences, zinc is necessary for the sense of taste, so it is also used in treating anorexia.
Basic for Skin, Hair and Nails
As mentioned, zinc is crucial for cell growth, thus it is also important for skin cells. This mineral accelerates the renewal of these cells, and it has proven benefits in treating rashes, acne, and psoriasis.
As an anti-inflammatory agent, zinc soothes the skin tissue, particularly in cases of poison ivy, sunburn, and certain hum diseases.
Zinc deficiency may result in hair loss and hair that looks dull and thin. Many shampoos today contain zinc due to its ability to prevent dandruff.
Important for Healing Wounds
Zinc fights infections, thus it helps our white cells by strengthening their ability to fight these infections. Zinc is used in treating many skin wounds, such as bedsores, cold sores, canker sores, burns, skin ulcers, surgical incisions.
Moreover, this mineral supports the body’s production of collagen, thus speeds up the healing process.
In one study, it was concluded that topical zinc might stimulate leg ulcer healing by decreasing inflammation and bacterial growth.
Critical for Vision
Zinc deficiency plays a vital role in developing age-related macular degeneration, which leads to partial or complete loss of vision. High concentrations of zinc are found in the retina, and with age, the retinal zinc declines.
Zinc plays an essential role in protecting from night blindness and the development of cataracts. A study showed that zinc delays the progression of AMD and vision loss.
Mandatory for Memory and Cognition
Many studies showed that consuming zinc regularly increases cognition and memory. This mineral works with vitamin B6 to enhance neurotransmitters in the brain.
Moreover, a high concentration of zinc is found in mossy fiber system of the hippocampus, the brain’s center of thought and memory.
Getting recommended doses of zinc is very important for people who are recovering from injuries because the body diverts zinc from the brain to use in wound healing.
A research done at the University of Toronto revealed that zinc has a crucial role in regulating how neurons communicate with one another, affecting how we learn.
Significant for Common Cold
Some studies showed that zinc could help reduce the duration of cold and lessen the symptoms. This mineral gets into parts of the body where the cold virus attacks and make symptoms less severe. With first symptoms, such as scratchy throat, reaching for zinc will help you get back quicker.
Fundamental for Athletic Performance and Strength
Zinc plays a crucial role in anabolic hormone production. When zinc is available in the body, it allows the release of the three most important anabolic hormones, testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-1. These hormones are essential for performance and muscle development.
Zinc gives the body energy and improves metabolism.
Crucial for Cardiovascular System
Zinc is important for maintaining the health of endothelial, the thin layer of cells that lines the blood vessels and play a significant role in circulation.
Low zinc can lead to high cholesterol buildup and inflammation. Regular zinc intake can protect the heart from diseases.
Important for Detoxification
Zinc has excellent antioxidant properties, and those qualities will remove toxins from the body. Those toxins can seriously damage the body, and brain especially.
Toxins can build up in the brain and accelerate Alzheimer’s disease. By removing those toxins, zinc helps to maintain the normal function of the brain cells.
Necessary for Mood and Avoiding Depression
As mentioned before, zinc plays a significant role in hormone production and in strengthening neurotransmitters. The production of dopamine is partly regulated by zinc status, and dopamine is a chemical that boosts energy, mood and learning.
Poor insulin health or low levels of testosterone can lead to health problems that increase depression. Zinc also increases the density of serotonin receptors in the brain.
Where Do We Get Zinc From?
People with great risk of zinc deficiency are usually vegetarians, and people with digestive issues and deficient stomach acid. Symptoms of zinc deficiency often produce cravings for a saltier, sweeter food and altered sense of taste. Moreover, low zinc levels can be indicated by low energy, diarrhea, chronic fatigue, weak immunity, and ringing in the ears.
We can get zinc from food, with red meat and fish and seafood, and dairy is one of the best sources of zinc.
The current percent daily value (%DV) for Zinc is 15mg, and top 10 sources of zinc include:
#1 Seafood (cooked oysters) – Zinc in 100g – 78.6mg (524% DV), Per 6 Oysters (42g) – 33.0mg (220% DV)
#2 Beef and Lamb (Cooked Lean Beef Shortribs) – Zinc in 100g – 12.3mg (82% DV), 1 Lean Ribeye Fillet (129g) – 14.2mg (95% DV)
#3 Wheat Germ (Toasted) Zinc in 100g16.7mg (111% DV), Per Ounce (28g) – 4.7mg (31% DV)
#4 Spinach – Zinc in 100g (Cooked) – 0.8mg (5% DV), 100g (Raw) 0.5mg (4% DV)
#5 Pumpkin and Squash Seeds – Zinc in 100g – 10.3mg (69% DV), Per Ounce (28g) – 2.9mg (19% DV)
#6 Nuts (Cashews) – Zinc in 100g (Roasted) – 5.6mg (37% DV), Per Ounce (28g) – 1.6mg (10% DV)
#7 Cocoa and Chocolate (Cocoa Powder) – Zinc in 100g – 6.8mg (45% DV), Per Tablespoon (5g) – 0.3mg (2% DV)
#8 Pork & Chicken (Cooked Lean Pork Shoulder) – Zinc in 100g – 5.0mg (33% DV), Per 3oz (85g) – 4.3mg (28% DV)
#9 Beans (Cooked Mung Beans) – Zinc in 100g – 0.5mg (3% DV), Per 3oz (85g) – 0.4mg (2.5% DV)
#10 Mushrooms (Cooked White Mushrooms) – Zinc in 100g- 0.9mg (6% DV), Per Mushroom (12g) – 0.1mg (1% DV)
Other seafood high in zinc includes crab (43%), and lobster (41%).
As for the lamb, there is lean foreshank (49%), lean shoulder (46%) and lean cubed lamb for stewing (37%).
Leafy green vegetables high in zinc apart from spinach are amaranth leaves (cooked 8%), and endive and radicchio (raw 2%). Sunflower has 10%, chia 9% and Flaxseeds 8% of the daily value.
More nuts high in zinc are pine nuts (12%), pecans (9%), almonds (6%), walnuts (6%), peanuts (6%), and hazelnuts (5%).
Chicken provides 15% of the daily value of zinc. Baked beans have 39% and kidney beans 12 %.
Finally, there are dried shiitake mushrooms (4 dried have 8% and 4 raw contain 4%).
With this information, one will certainly rethink the benefits of zinc.
Neek, L., Gaeini, A., Choobineh, S. Effect of Zinc and Selenium Supplementation on Serum Testosterone and Plasma Lactate in Cyclist After an Exhaustive Exercise Bout. Biological Trace Element Research. 9 July 2011. Published Ahead of Print.
Chang, C., Choi, J., Kim, H., Park, S. Correlation Between Serum Testosterone Level and Concentrations of Copper and Zinc in Hair Tissue. Biological Trace Element Research. 14 June 2011. Published Ahead of Print.
Maseregian, N., Hall, S., et al. Low Dietary or Supplemental Zinc is Associated with Depression Symptoms Among Women, But not Men, in a Population-Based Epidemiological Survey. Journal of Affective Disorders. October 2011. Published Ahead of Print.
Gumulec, J., Masarik, M., et al. Molecular Mechanisms of Zinc in Prostate Cancer. Klinical Onkology. 2011. 24(4), 249-255.
Chasapis, C., Loutsidou, A., et al. Zinc and Human Health: An Update. Archives of Toxicology. November 2011. Published Ahead of Print.
Wong, C., Ho, E. Zinc and its Role in Age-Related Inflammation and Immune Dysfunction. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 2012. 56, 77-87.
Shinjini, B., Taneja, S. Zinc and Cognitive Development. British Journal of Nutrition. 2001. 85(Suppl 2), 139-145.
Maylor, E., Simpson, E., et al. Effects of Zinc Supplementation on Cognitive Function in Healthy Middle-Aged and Older Adults: the ZENITH Study. British Journal of Nutrition. 2006. 96, 752-760.
Prasad, Ananda. Zinc Deficiency. British Medical Journal. 2003. 326, 409-410.
Yary, T., Aazami, S. Dietary Intake of Zinc was Inversely Associated with Depression. Biological Trace Element Research. September 2011. Published Ahead of Print.
Images credit: DepositPhotos.com
Last article update: 8/27/2019