Zinc is a trace mineral that is essential for many body functions like reproduction, improving immunity, growth, taste, vision, etc. It is also has anti-oxidant properties that protects body cells from attack by free radicals. Zinc deficiency can lead to weight loss, poor healing of wounds, several skin problems, night blindness and so on.
Health benefits of Zinc
Most of the health benefits of zinc are derived from a healthy diet and a multivitamin. Those in industrialized countries rarely suffer from zinc deficiency. The elderly and alcoholics are some of those who can have low zinc levels in their blood. Some of the illnesses and medical conditions that be helped by zinc intake are listed below.
Benefits in Common Cold
Zinc nasal spray or zinc lozenges can reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms. In a study, those who took zinc lozenge that had 13.3mg of zinc gluconate got over their cold symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose and coughing quicker than another group who took a placebo. Zinc nasal spray can result in people losing their sense of smell and while some studies support the benefit zinc sprays have on common cold, others do not find any tangible effect. It is best to consult a doctor before using the spray.
Zinc supplements taken regularly do reduce the chances of getting a cold. Elderly people with normal zinc levels had lesser chances of contracting pneumonia. They also needed fewer days of taking antibiotics. Further studies ar
Recommended Dosage of Zinc
e needed to examine the effectiveness of zinc against cold viruses.
HIV/AIDS : Health benefits of zinc are significant for those who have HIV/AIDS. These people have lower zinc levels in their blood even before they display any symptoms of HIV/AIDS. These low levels could be due to the medications these people take, poor absorption, vomiting and diarrhea that results in loss of this nutrient. This makes HIV/AIDS patients vulnerable to opportunistic infections. HIV patients who taken plenty of zinc can resist infections and gain weight. Some studies contradict this theory and claim that zinc can contribute to higher death rates. If you suffer from HIV/AIDS consult your physician before taking zinc or other multivitamins.
Benefits in AMD : Age-related macular degeneration can be slowed with zinc. This disease takes place when a portion of the retina deteriorates. This portion is critical for central vision and in a large clinical trial – ‘Age Related Eye Disease Study’ – those with AMD can slow the progress with a combination of 80mg zinc, 500mg vitamin C, 400mg Vitamin E, 15mg beta-carotene and 2mg copper. Consult a doctor and check if these minerals and vitamins will help your AMD condition.
Acne benefits : Oral zinc supplements are said to improve acne although other studies have found no benefit. Topical zinc along with a topical antibiotic like erythromycin can ease symptoms of acne.
Sickle Cell Disease : Those who suffer from this condition often lack zinc. Zinc supplements can ease symptoms of sickle cell disease. Children showed improvement in weight and height and had lesser crises because of this disease.
Benefits in ADHD : Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder manifests in children. Some studies suggest that children who take zinc show small improvement by reducing ADHD symptoms such as impaired socialization, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Children with low BMI, low free fatty acids in the blood and low zinc levels must also take zinc supplements or foods enriched with zinc.
Immune System : Health benefits of zinc are important for the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses. Those who have low levels of zinc – especially children and older people – run the risk of contracting infections like pneumonia. Those with skin ulcers can benefit from zinc supplements if their levels of zinc in the blood are low.
Diarrhea : Developing countries have high incidences of deaths due to diarrhea especially among children. UNICEF and the World Health Organization suggest that these malnourished children who lack zinc take sufficient zinc supplements for at least 14 days. The same effect in treating diarrhea was not found in children with ample zinc levels in their blood.
Regulating genetic activities : Zinc is needed to read genetic instructions and these can get misread in those with zinc deficiency. Thus, zinc is a critical regulator for several genetic activities.
Develop Smell and Taste : The protein gustin is required for the sense of taste. In order for gustin to function properly, zinc is needed. Since smell and taste are closely linked, zinc deficiency can lead to impaired sense of smell and taste.
Benefits as an Antioxidant : As an antioxidant, zinc helps in biochemical decisive reactions like enzymatic functions, protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism.
Miscellaneous Health Benefits of Zinc
- Stomach ulcers can be healed with zinc
- Cold sores caused by herpes simplex virus can be healed with a zinc oxide cream
- Wilson’s disease can be treated by zinc by reducing the copper that is built up in the body
- Eczema a chronic inflammatory disorder can be healed with zinc
- Deficiency of zinc can lead to delayed wound healing.
- Enlarged prostate gland is a result of deficiency in zinc and this can be dealt with by taking mineral supplements.
- Quick growth and repair of cells and proper DNA functioning during pregnancy is aided by zinc
- Development of sex organs and spermatogenesis in males and lactation and parturition in females is helped by zinc
- Enzyme regulation is aided by zinc
- Alopecia, bone loss and night blindness are some of the other conditions that can be treated by adequate intake of zinc food and supplements.
Foods rich in Zinc
The best health benefits of zinc can be got from oysters that have the richest source. Cheese, poultry, red meats, shellfish, legumes, tofu, cooked greens, brewer’s yeast, miso, pumpkin, green beans and sunflower seeds are other good sources of zinc . Fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products also provide zinc.
Precautions when taking Zinc
Excess of zinc can lead to stomach cramps, loss of appetite, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. It can also lead to lower levels of copper in the blood, lowering of HDL cholesterol and lower immunity. Hence, everyone must take zinc supplements only after consulting a physician.
Most people in industrialized countries do not suffer from zinc deficiency. Those in developing and underdeveloped countries can enjoy the health benefits of zinc from foods rich in this essential mineral or supplements. The many benefits of zinc for bone health, immunity, eye health, skin conditions, HIV/AIDS and other medical conditions prove that everyone must take adequate quantities of zinc