The role of zinc in health and well-being

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Zinc capsules

Zinc is a mineral that is essential for health. After iron, this micronutrient is the most abundant trace element in our body.

As an important nutrient, zinc helps maintain our optimal health and well-being.

Functions of zinc in the body

Zinc contributes to tissue growth and repair, bone strength, skin health and wound healing. Zinc is necessary for the normal development and function of the brain and nervous system.

It plays an important role in the function of more than 300 hormones and enzymes. In fact, zinc is an important component of one of our most important internal antioxidant systems. This enzyme system, known as copper/zinc superoxide dismutase, is associated with healthy aging and protection against excess free radicals.

Another area where zinc really shines is its ability to promote healthy immune function.

People with zinc deficiency have reduced antibody production, impaired immune cell function, and reduced activity of the thymus gland, which is important for immune system health. Research suggests that even mild zinc deficiency can affect immune function.

Zinc deficiency also impairs the body's ability to regulate inflammatory balance. Scientists found that zinc helps regulate COX-2 enzymes, which are involved in pain and inflammation.

Are you getting enough zinc?

Severe zinc deficiency is common in developing countries, particularly among children.

While most Americans get enough zinc from the foods they eat, many others struggle to meet their zinc needs:

Older adults (60+) are particularly at risk. The government NHANES 111 survey found that 35-45% of adults over 60 years of age had zinc intakes below the estimated average daily requirement.
In people taking certain medications, the ability to absorb zinc may be reduced or the excretion of zinc in urine may be increased.
Vegetarians' zinc requirements can be 50% higher. Plant foods like grains, seeds, and legumes contain phytates, compounds that reduce the ability to absorb zinc and other minerals.
People who suffer from digestive or intestinal problems may have a zinc deficiency.
People who consume too much alcohol may not absorb enough zinc.

Problems associated with zinc deficiency

A zinc deficiency can cause a number of problems:

Hair loss
Loss of appetite
White spots on fingernails
Decreased ability to taste or smell
Sores on the skin
Lack of energy
Memory or mood problems

Promising zinc research

Zinc has been found to help store and process insulin in the body, meaning it contributes to healthy blood sugar levels.

In 2014, researchers at Northwestern University published a startling discovery in the journal Nature Chemistry. They discovered that in mammalian eggs, zinc is stored in small packages beneath the surface of the cells. During fertilization, these packets are released in waves that they called "zinc sparks." Scientists who were able to videotape these sparks believe they could identify the most viable eggs and even help women who are having trouble getting pregnant.

Zinc-containing foods and dietary supplements to support health

Fortunately, many foods contain large amounts of zinc. Here are some of the best sources:

Oysters and other shellfish
meat and poultry
Nuts and beans
Hard cheese and eggs
Pumpkin seeds
When it comes to supplements, zinc is found in almost all multivitamin or multimineral supplements.

Zinc supplements can be used alone or in combination with other ingredients such as magnesium, calcium, or comprehensive targeted supplements. The different forms of zinc include zinc gluconate, zinc acetate and zinc sulfate.

It is noted that zinc can interact with certain medicines, so it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking it. Too much zinc can also interfere with the absorption of copper into the body. So it is not a mineral that should be taken in high doses without considering its advantages and disadvantages. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc in adults is 11 mg/day for men and 8 mg/day for women. Translated with (free version)

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