Zinc has gained quite a reputation as a natural immune system booster.  For example, recent studies show how zinc can be effective in lessening the duration of down time from seasonal ailments - especially when you take a high quality zinc supplement within 24 hours of not feeling well.

As popular as it is for seasonal use, zinc is a trace element the body needs for everyday important bodily functions.  Most people following a reasonably healthy diet get all the zinc they need naturally from food.

Zinc is found in meats, shellfish, legumes, eggs, nuts, dark chocolate and some vegetables.  Vegans and vegetarians, the elderly and women taking birth control or hormone replacement therapy are most at risk for zinc deficiency, but it is easily solved by taking supplements or making simple changes to your eating habits.

What are the symptoms of a zinc deficiency?

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, talk to your (integrative) healthcare provider about the possibility of zinc deficiency:

  • PMS or menopause symptoms that worsen with time
  • Poor immune system
  • Slow wound healing
  • Changes in taste and/or smell
  • Changes in appetite, especially cravings for sweet or salty foods
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Infertility problems
  • Nerve dysfunction
  • Hair loss
  • Digestive issues
  • Poor memory or inability to concentrate

Discover the top 6 health benefits of zinc:

  1. Improved eye health: Along with vitamin A, zinc helps your brain communicate with your eyes through nerve impulses. Supplements including zinc may even help slow vision damage caused by age-related vision problems.
  2. Limitation of unwanted cell division: Research has determined that zinc targets certain types of "bad" cells.  In addition, zinc has the ability to inhibit the overactive calcium signaling common to uncontrollable cell division - which you don't want to see in adults.
  3. Better brain function: Zinc supplementation may help to avoid a decline in brain function.  Studies show that zinc can prevent the growth of defective proteins that accumulate in the brains of those experiencing memory loss.
  4. Avoid ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - in children - is linked to low zinc levels.  Symptoms such as impulsivity, hyperactivity and impaired socialization may be improved through zinc supplementation.
  5. Enhanced immune system health: We know about zinc’s ability to neutralize the threat of common pathogens inside the body - especially in the winter months.  But, it also boosts immune system function by enhancing the natural production of antibodies and cytokines - which get secreted to help cells to function properly under stress.
  6. Stronger heart function: An excessive release of calcium can lead to rapid heart rates and poor overall heart function.  Zinc supplementation can help regulate your heart’s beat by affecting the way calcium is distributed within the heart’s cellular structure.

How much zinc do you need?

Only small amounts of zinc are needed for proper cellular function.  For most adults, the RDA is between 8 and 11 milligrams per day.

Healthy children require 3 to 8mg depending on age. If meat and dairy products are regularly included in your diet, or if you take a daily multi-vitamin, your zinc requirements are probably being met. If not, zinc supplements may be needed.  If you have doubts and need help: talk to a trusted, (integrative) healthcare provider today.

Remember, in many cases, improvements in your health are in your hands and (usually) easier than you think - with the right information and a willingness to take action.

Sources for this article include:

NIH.gov

Healthline.com