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Incredible Zinc Health Benefits
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is found in every cell in the human body. It primarily functions as a component in over 200 enzymes. The enzymes use Zinc to build many important compounds and structural components needed for the body to function. Zinc functions in more enzymatic reactions than any other mineral.
If zinc levels are low, it disrupts virtually every body system due to its central role in so many enzymes. In addition to its role in enzymes, zinc is required for the proper action of many hormones, including insulin, growth hormone, and sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.
Adequate zinc levels are essential to good health. The beneficial effects of zinc are extensive. It is especially important to proper immune function, wound healing, brain, and sensory functions, sexual function, and skin health.
What Health Conditions are Impacted by Zinc Deficiency?
Chronic blood loss
High fiber diet
High dietary calcium:zinc ratio
High dietary iron:zinc ratio
Inflammatory bowel disease
Pregnancy and lactation
Oral contraceptive use
Growth spurts and puberty
Zinc plays a huge role in overall health. Its importance cannot be overstated. The scientific support for zinc supplementation is extremely well supported in the medical literature. There have been over 1,000 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies where zinc supplementation benefits many different challenges and restores health.
Acne And Other Skin Issues
Zinc is a very important supplement to support the structure and health of the skin, hair, and nails. Zinc supplementation has been shown to offer considerable benefits in improving these issues. It strengthens nails, is critical for hair growth and texture, and is required for the skin to retain the proper hydration (water) and oil content.
Brain Health, Sleep Quality, And Mood
Zinc deficiency produces profound changes in brain chemistry, resulting in depression and impaired mental function in humans. Zinc deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in children and the elderly. It has been suggested to be a major factor in the development of poor mental function and memory and low mood in these age groups. Not surprisingly, clinical studies with zinc supplementation have shown some beneficial effects in improving both mood and some aspects of mental function in both children and the elderly.
The Common Cold
Zinc is involved in virtually every aspect of immune function. Zinc has been referred to zinc as the “gatekeeper” of immune function. Zinc supplementation has been shown to reverse low immune function, especially the lowered immunity characteristic of aging. This effect may be due to restoring blood levels of thymulin (a hormone produced by the thymus gland). As people age the level of thymulin and other immune-enhancing thymus hormones are reduced. Reducing these hormones leads to impaired immune function and an increased risk of infection. By restoring the levels of thymulin, zinc supplementation can significantly improve immune function. Another effect of zinc supplementation noted in studies on the elderly is that it improves overall nutritional status. This effect signifies the importance of zinc in properly absorbing and utilizing other nutrients.
Diabetes and Blood Sugar Control
Zinc is involved in virtually all aspects of insulin metabolism: synthesis, secretion, and utilization. Unfortunately, zinc deficiency is common in patients with diabetes. And without sufficient zinc, insulin does not work properly. Zinc supplementation and virtually all other water-soluble vitamins and minerals are essential as people with Diabetes typically excrete too much zinc and other water-soluble nutrients in the urine. Several studies have shown zinc supplementation improves insulin sensitivity in people with prediabetes or diabetes. As discussed above, zinc is also important for proper wound healing and immune function, which is critical in diabetes.
Male Sexual Function
Zinc is critical for male sexual function. It is involved in hormone metabolism, sperm formation, and sperm motility. Zinc deficiency is characterized by, among many other things, decreased testosterone levels and sperm counts. Zinc levels are typically much lower in infertile men with low sperm counts, indicating that a low zinc status may contribute to infertility. Several double-blind studies have shown that zinc supplementation can improve sperm counts and motility. It is especially effective in boosting sperm counts in men with low testosterone levels.
Zinc has been shown to be beneficial in reducing vision loss in treating age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). Zinc plays an essential role in the metabolism of the retina, and the elderly are at high risk for zinc deficiency. In addition to the studies with a combination of nutrients, zinc alone has been shown to improve ARMD. The impressive results of zinc supplementation led to the famous Age-Related Eye Disease Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Low zinc levels are linked to premature births, low birth weight, growth retardation, and pre-eclampsia, a serious condition of pregnancy associated with elevations in blood pressure, fluid retention, and loss of protein in the urine. Some studies of zinc supplementation in pregnancy have shown that the zinc-supplemented group demonstrated greater body weight and head circumference than the placebo group and fewer pregnancy complications.
Premenstrual syndrome is a common occurrence for many women during their reproductive years. Nutritional factors appear to be an underlying factor. For many women, zinc may be the key nutrient to bring things into balance, as several clinical studies have shown positive benefits. For example, in a double-blind trial of 60 young university women, those given 30 mg/day of zinc experienced significant improvements in quality of life scores, especially as it related to both physical (energy levels, sleep quality, reduced breast tenderness, etc.) and psychological aspects (e.g., mood scores) in quality of life assessments in young women with premenstrual syndrome.
Zinc has antioxidant effects and functions in the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (copper-zinc SOD). Zinc levels are typically reduced in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Several studies have used zinc supplementation to restore adequate zinc levels in rheumatoid arthritis, with some of the studies demonstrating corresponding improvements in zinc-related functions. Most of the studies utilized zinc in the form of zinc sulfate. Better results may have been produced by using a more absorbable form of zinc.
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