What is zinc?
Zinc, a nutrient found throughout your body, helps your immune system and metabolism function. Zinc is also essential to wound healing and your sense of taste and smell.
Zinc is considered an essential nutrient, meaning that your body can’t produce or store it.
With a varied diet, your body usually gets enough zinc. Food sources of zinc include chicken, red meat, and fortified breakfast cereals.
Role of zinc in the body
Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It is needed for the body’s defensive (immune) system to work correctly. It plays a role in cell division, cell growth, wound healing, and the breakdown of carbohydrates. Zinc is also needed for the senses of smell and taste.
Zinc helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly.
Zinc is necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function, and many other processes. In addition, it’s critical for the development and function of immune cells. This mineral is also fundamental to skin health, DNA synthesis, and protein production.
Zinc is also needed for your senses of taste and smell. Because one of the enzymes crucial for proper taste and smell is dependent on this nutrient, a zinc deficiency can reduce your ability to taste or smell.
Benefits of Zinc
Zinc that’s used topically is known as zinc oxide. Zinc oxide cream, ointment, or paste is applied to the skin to prevent diaper rash and sunburn conditions.
- Immune function
The body needs zinc for the immune system to work properly. Low levels of zinc can increase the risk of infections, such as pneumonia.
- Treating Diarrhea
There is evidence that it can shorten bouts of diarrhea, especially in those who do not have a nutritious diet.
- Wound Healing
Zinc plays a role in maintaining healthy skin. People with long-term wounds or ulcers often have low zinc levels. Healthcare professionals may recommend zinc supplements for people with persistent wounds.
- Chronic Disease
Zinc has antioxidant properties. As such, it can help reduce oxidative stress. Scientists believe that there is a link between oxidative stress and chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and other aspects of metabolic syndrome.
- Age-related Macular Degeneration
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), zinc prevents cell damage in the retina, and it may help delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration and vision loss. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, it is unlikely to prevent degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects a person’s central vision. Images that used to be clear may start appearing blurred, and dark spots may appear, which get progressively more prominent.
- Sexual Health
Low zinc levels may lead to delayed sexual development, fertility problems, and other sexual health issues in males. While a zinc deficiency can negatively impact, too much zinc may lead to toxicity, which could be harmful to sperm.
Zinc plays an essential role in bone formation and health and may help prevent osteoporosis, according to research from 2020.
- Neurological Symptoms
Researchers looked at 63 people who had headaches, tingling, and peripheral neuropathy, as well as deficiencies in zinc and other micronutrients. After treatment for these deficiencies, the participants reported improvements in their neurological symptoms.
- The Common Cold
Studies from 2011 suggest that zinc lozenges may help shorten the duration of the common cold, but only with daily doses of over 75 milligrams (mg).
Possible Side Effects of Zinc
Oral zinc can cause Indigestion, Diarrhea, Headache, Nausea, and Vomiting. When oral zinc is taken long-term and in high doses, it can cause copper deficiency. People with low copper levels might experience neurological issues, such as numbness and weakness in the arms and legs.
PROPER DOSAGE OF ZINC
The tables show the recommended daily allowance of zinc, based on a person’s age and sex:
|0-6 mos.||2 mg||2 mg|
|7-12 months||3 mg||3 mg|
|1-3 years||3 mg||3 mg|
|4-8 years||5 mg||5 mg|
|9-13 years||8 mg||8 mg|
|14-18 years||11 mg||9 mg|
|19 years & above||11 mg||8 mg|