16 Amazing Zinc Benefits, Foods & Sideeffects
What are health benefits of Zinc?
Are Zinc benefits for skin Real?
You might be having many such questions about Zinc and I will try to answer these today. Minerals are called micronutrients, as your body does not need them in large quantities. This, however, does not decrease their importance. Minerals do not provide the body with energy, but your body needs certain minerals to build healthy and strong bones and teeth and to turn the food you eat into energy. Eating a healthy balanced diet can provide us all the essential minerals and vitamins that are required for the proper functioning of the body. Essential minerals include iron calcium potassium sodium and magnesium.
What is Zinc?
A type of metal, zinc is an important trace mineral, which is required in low amounts by the body. Our body’s immune system needs zinc in order to function optimally and it also helps in using the sense of smell and taste. Zinc helps in producing hormones, in controlling diabetes, healing acne scars and wounds, proper food digestion, healthy cell division reducing chances of diabetes, stress levels, heart-related diseases, and prevents cancer. It is most helpful during childhood, infancy, and pregnancy.
Zinc Requirement for Our Body
All bodily tissue has some zinc present in it and helps in the production of around 100 enzymes in the body. The appropriate intake of zinc depends on one’s age and gender. For infants below 6 months, 2mg of zinc is sufficient per day. For 7 months to 1 year, 3 mg per day is sufficient. For children of 1-8 years, 3-5 milligrams is sufficient per day. For children 9-13 years, 8 mg per day is sufficient. For male adults, 14 years and above 11 mg is the daily requirement. For female 14 to 18 years of age, the daily requirement is 9 gms. For females who are 19 years and above, 8 gms is the daily requirement of zinc and finally, for pregnant or lactating females, the daily required amount of zinc intake is 11-12 gms.
Are You At the Risk of Zinc Deficiency?
It is seen that people who live vegetarian or vegan live styles are at high risk of zinc deficiency as they have given up on non-vegetarian such as meat or dairy products which are the most important sources of zinc. Zinc is very important during the development years and is crucial for children teens pregnant or nursing mothers. Children who follow their parents’ vegetarian or vegan lifestyle are under the threat of zinc deficiency. People suffering from gastrointestinal diseases such as short bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease are also vulnerable to zinc deficiency. People who suffer from alcoholism too may have a low zinc status. It is important to note that those who suffer from zinc deficiency are also at a high rate of suffering from iron deficiency as many of the same food that contains high levels of zinc also have good levels of iron in them.
Zinc Deficiency Symptoms
Zinc deficiency is a common problem around the world and usually takes place when we do not eat enough food that has zinc in it or the body is unable to absorb or utilize the zinc in foods. The bodily organs such as the salivary glands and pancreas produce zinc. Zinc deficiency symptoms include
- a weak immune system,
- slow bone growth,
- rapid weight gain, and loss,
- frequent acne breakouts and skin rashes,
- hair loss,
- attention disorder depression and hyperactivity,
- low blood pressure,
- loss of appetite,
- inability to heal wounds,
- hormonal imbalances,
- disturbed sleep and
- loss of taste and smell senses.
Over intake of zinc leads to zinc toxicity which is harmful to the body. The best way to avoid consuming too much zinc is to avoid taking dietary supplements.
Zinc Rich Foods
Foods that are rich in zinc include seafood such as Crab, Oyster, and Lobster. Dairy products like Cheese, Milk, Yogurt. And vegetarian foods like Kidney beans, Peas, Peanuts, Oats, Almonds, Sesame Seeds, Salmon, Cocoa powder, Mushrooms, Swiss Cheese, Egg Yolks, Lima Beans, and Turnips.
Oysters have very high quantity and over-consumption of oysters lead to zinc toxicity. Symptoms of zinc toxicity include nausea, anxiety, vomiting, headaches and stomach cramps. Zinc supplements are also available in the form of capsules and tablets (1).
Health Benefits of Zinc
1. Healthy Immune System
Zinc keeps the immune system strong and it is said that zinc supplements lozenges can help reduce the duration of a common cold and other mild illnesses by about 50%. It interferes with mucus and bacterial build up within the nasal passage. Zinc speeds up white blood cell activity that helps reducing infections and colds. It also protects against conjunctivitis, pneumonia, and other fungal infections.
2. Healthy Bone Growth
Zinc is needed to produce the matrix of collagen protein threads on which the calcium-phosphorus compound required for forming bones in deposited. Zinc is responsible for the proper and complete absorption of calcium by the body. Bone loss is a condition in which the bones become weak and brittle. Zinc is essential for bone healing and repairing and zinc must be added to one’s diet especially during old age or in cases of osteoporosis. Along with the consumption of Calcium-Rich Foods, Zinc-rich foods also help in proper bone growth and development (2).
3. Healthy Skin
Zinc lessens the formation of damaging free radicals and helps in the production of collagen – the support structure of the skin- that is essential for skin regrowth and repair. Whenever we cut ourselves, zinc gets to work first. Zinc protects against infection, controls inflammation and helps in cell regrowth around the affected area. Pimples take place as bacteria and oil build up blacks the pores and cause the area to swell up and turn red and painful. Zinc helps control the inflammation. Acne also leads to viral and bacterial skin infections, zinc activates white blood cell activity which helps fight these infections. Zinc oxide does not allow UV light to penetrate the skin. Zinc oxide does not get absorbed deeply into the skin hence it is safe for use on small babies and people with sensitive skin. It also helps to reduce acne scars. Zinc is an essential micronutrient for glowing skin (3).
4. Helps in the Treatment of Eczema and Scalp Related Issues
Zinc deficiency in the body leads to Atopic dermatitis, also known as Eczema. It is an inflammatory skin condition and it can be cured by rebalancing the zinc content in the blood. Dandruff occurs due to excessive growth of common fungus that lives on the human scalp. Zinc pyrithione helps to reduce the bacterial growth and oil production on which the bacteria feed. Zinc’s anti-inflammatory properties help relieve an irritated, dry and itchy scalp. Zinc is also important in treating Alopecia, which causes hair loss among kids and adults. Zinc helps in the growth of strong and thick hair.
5. Zinc and Cancer Prevention
Zinc is seen as a natural cancer treatment as it fights oxidative stress, supports cell division, and stops tumor growth. Zinc as a natural oxidant single out harmful free radicals that change normal cells into cancerous cells by attacking the DNA. Researchers have found people with a higher concentration of zinc to have lower risks of developing breast and prostate cancer. Zinc deficiency causes enlargement of prostate leading to cancer. Low levels of zinc are also associated with higher chances of bladder cancer. Zinc supplementation lowers risk of skin cancer.
6. Helps in Cell Growth
Zinc is involved in cell growth regulation, protein synthesis, regulating hormone levels, enzymatic functions, and energy metabolism. Zinc plays an active and integral role in gene transcription as well.
7. Improves Heart Health
Zinc is responsible for maintaining the health of the cells in the cardiovascular system. The endothelium depends heavily on zinc for its health. Zinc is a remedy for high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels as it promotes smooth blood circulation. It helps prevent oxidative stress and is anti-inflammatory in nature. Zinc plays a role in how calcium moves in the heart cells. Proper control is essential to prevent heart failure and irregular heartbeats.
Here is an informative video from The Home Channel
8. Improves Reproductive Health
Zinc deficiency adversely affects sperm quality and sperm count. Zinc affects male fertility rate as it manages testosterone level. Zinc also is instrumental in the development of sex organs in males. When it comes to females, zinc plays an important role in the reproductive and lactating stages. Zinc is essential for the proper functioning of the DNA and in cell growth. Zinc is extremely important for pregnant women due to the enormous amounts of cell development and enzymatic activities it facilitates.
9. Facilitates Muscle Growth
Zinc aids cell division and cell development and growth. Zinc helps boost testosterone which is the male sex hormone responsible for muscle growth, size, definition, repair, and development. Hence the higher the concentration of zinc in the body, greater the levels of testosterone present and better anabolic environment for the muscles. Zinc orchestrates how much testosterone is produced by the body after high-intensity weight lifting and training as it converts androstenedione to testosterone.
10. Helps in Brain development
The hippocampus in the brain contains high quantities of zinc. This section of the brain controls your memories and thoughts. Zinc deficiency has an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease caused by the accumulation of defective protein clumps in the brain. These accumulations are prevented by zinc. Zinc helps in the proper functioning of neurotransmitters throughout the body. Children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have lower zinc levels than children who do not have this condition. Children suffering from impaired socialization, hyperactivity, and critical impulsive behavior can be treated with zinc supplementation.
12. Nutrient Absorption and Digestion
Zinc uses the amino acids from food after it facilitates protein synthesis. Zinc helps in breaking down carbohydrates which provide our body with energy. Zinc deficiency leads to fatigue and low adrenal levels. It helps in maintaining stomach acid levels which are used by our stomach to break down food. Excess acid secretion may lead to burning sensations, stomach ulcers, and indigestion. Zinc can possibly reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea.
13. Prevents Diabetes
Insulin is the most important hormone for maintaining blood sugar level and is seen as a natural solution to diabetes. Zinc is necessary for the formation of insulin in the pancreas and stimulates insulin action. It is necessary for the processing and secretion of insulin. Zinc deficiency, not surprisingly is then associated with diabetes. Oxidative stress is common in diabetes and zinc reduces oxidative damage in diabetic patients. Zinc also helps prevent loss of beta cells, which causes diabetes. People with diabetes should follow a well-balanced diet chart for Diabetics.
14. Improves Sensory Functions
Zinc produces an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase, which is important which is important for taste and smell and zinc deficiency causes loss of smell and taste. It is seen usually in old people that they lose their sense of smell due to lack of zinc in their diet. Raising the level of zinc intake can enhance your olfactory cells and taste buds. Vitamin A along with zinc helps your eyes sense light and communicate with your brain.
15. Brings Hormonal Balance
Zinc is very important for the production of sex hormones and fertility.Zinc has an instrumental role in the production of the male sex hormone testosterone. For women, zinc helps in the production of two hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone. It also helps in the release of eggs from the ovaries. Zinc helps the pituitary gland to release follicle stimulating hormone. People with autoimmune diseases have lower than normal levels of zinc in their body. Zinc is important for a healthy immune system and synthesis of hormones.
16. Promotes Weight Loss
Zinc helps in loss of appetite and hence it aids in weight loss and prevents you from eating more than required. This is especially helpful for obese individuals.
Zinc supplements must be taken only after consultation with a doctor and within prescribed limits.
A properly balanced diet that contains both macronutrients such as proteins and carbohydrates and micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals is essential not only for a healthy body but also for a well functioning alert and healthy mind. Special care must be taken for including zinc rich food in the daily dietary plan for a healthy lifestyle.