How
nutrition

How does zinc help your body?

Amy Wilson

When we think of zinc, many of us associate it with using it during cold and flu season to help with our immunity. Zinc is absolutely necessary to our immune system, but did you know that zinc is also necessary for numerous other functions all around the body? Zinc plays a vital role in the health of our skin, muscles, bones, and even the health of our liver.

Zinc's benefits for immunity

Zinc is one of the most abundant elements in the human body. It is necessary in over 300 reactions that take place in our bodies daily.1 Zinc stores are mostly found in muscle and bone, but it is also found in high concentration in our skin tissues and liver. Zinc plays a key role in our health as it aids in the development of specific immune cells that help us combat harmful bacteria and viruses. Having adequate zinc stores and a strong immune system can help shorten the duration of the time we are sick, as well as prevent us from becoming ill in the first place. It has been observed that individuals deficient in zinc, are more likely to get reoccurring infections. This is one reason we tend to see zinc supplementation popular in cold and flu remedies.

Zinc and Skin Health

Approximately 11% of our body’s zinc concentration is found in our skin tissue.1 Since zinc has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help lessen the redness and pain experienced in certain types of skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and eczema. Zinc is also of vital importance in tissue repair. By having adequate zinc levels, you are able to repair skin more efficiently, and are better able to prevent scarring from skin tissue damage.

How should I take zinc?

Getting an adequate amount of zinc daily can easily be achieved through supplementation and/or a mindful diet rich in zinc-dense foods such as meat, shellfish, eggs and legumes. When supplementing with zinc, it is important to add copper-rich foods to your diet as well. Long-term zinc supplementation can deplete your body’s copper stores. Copper is also an essential mineral we obtain through our diet. Some easy foods to add to your diet that are rich in copper are spirulina, shiitake mushrooms, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, oysters and dark chocolate.

When supplementing with zinc, be sure to take it with food. Taking zinc on an empty stomach can sometimes cause a little stomach upset. By taking zinc with food, you should be able to avoid this from happening.

Summing it up

Zinc is an important and necessary mineral that we need every day for functions all over the body! From immunity, to the health of our skin, this mineral is essential. If there is one thing we know, it is that preventative medicine is important in preventing disease. Adequate zinc intake contributes to overall good health and wellbeing. When starting supplementation with zinc, talk with your Naturopathic Doctor or healthcare provider to discuss dosing.

Take care everyone!

Amy Wilson

References

  1. Tapiero H, Tew KD. Trace elements in human physiology and pathology: zinc and metallothioneins. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2003 Nov 1;57(9):399-411.

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