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Wondering What Zinc is Good For? The 7 Top Benefits!

Zinc is an essential nutrient that's found primarily in red meat, poultry, and seafood. It's necessary for immunity, growth, wound healing, and many other benefits we'll discuss in this article.

Your body can't produce it and it can't store it, so eating enough each day is critical. It's the second-most abundant trace mineral in the body and is found in every cell!

What are the Benefits of Taking Zinc?

1. Immunity

Zinc has been described as the "gatekeeper for the immune system" and an absolutely essential part. It's required for cell signaling and immune cell function, meaning that a deficiency will make you more susceptible to illness.

Zinc levels typically decrease with age, and it's been shown that oral zinc supplementation gives the elderly improved immune function reduced inflammation!

Boosting zinc levels at the beginning of an illness or just after exposure to contagious illness can reduce your risk and shorten the duration. This review even reported that due to zinc's antiviral properties and ability to rebalance the immune system, it can help those with Covid-19.

In both young and older adults, zinc supplementation reduces oxidative stress markers and inflammatory responses, and as we'll discuss next, shortens the duration of the common cold.

Wondering what zinc is good for immunity? Check out our top supplement choices here.

2. Reduces Cold Duration

There's no cure for the common cold, but zinc is the next best thing. According to one meta-analysis, zinc supplementation shortens the duration by 33%.

Another meta-analysis reported that taking 80-92 mg of zinc per day (a very high amount!) recovered 3.1 times faster than those who didn't. The researchers recommended that anyone experiencing cold symptoms should begin taking zinc within 24 hours. Sounds like a good reason to keep some on hand!

3. Wound Healing

One sign of a zinc deficiency is a wound or ulcer that just won't heal. Many hospitals use zinc as a therapy for burns, ulcers, or other skin wounds.

Your skin holds around 5% of your body's zinc content. Zinc helps with collagen synthesis, is anti-inflammatory, and immune response. For these reasons, adequate zinc intake is critical for keeping your skin functioning properly.

One 12-week study showed that in those with diabetic foot ulcers, supplementing with 200 mg zinc per day (an extremely high dose) had a significant reduction in ulcer size (and improvement in metabolic profiles) in comparison with the placebo group.

4. Acne

There's a strong correlation between severity and type of acne lesions, and zinc deficiency and it's suggested that the low zinc levels play a role in the condition.

The anti-inflammatory effects of zinc as well as its ability to decrease oil production make zinc supplementation a promising treatment method for acne (as well as many other dermatological conditions).

Zinc supplementation may not be as effective as antibiotics, but for those looking for an alternative to treat acne caused by the bacteria P. acnes, zinc had a 31.2% success rate in this study.

5. Age-Related Vision Loss

We are still learning what zinc is good for, but it's clear that zinc dramatically reduces your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

This eye disease tends to worsen with age, but this review that included the Age-Related Eye Disease Study showed treatment with a formulation including zinc significantly reduced progression and recommended it to anyone at the early stages of AMD.

6. Reduces Inflammation

Oxidative stress in the body can lead to cancer, heart disease, and mental decline, as well as many other forms of chronic illness.

Zinc decreases oxidative stress through its antioxidant properties, and reduces inflammatory protein levels thereby reducing inflammation (including arthritis symptoms).

One study showed that elderly adults who were given 45 mg of zinc per day had lower inflammatory markers after 6 months. The scientists who performed the study concluded that zinc has a protective effect in atherosclerosis because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (a type of heart disease).

7. Helps with Age-Related Disease

We know some of what zinc is good for with respect to aging from previous sections (such as age-related macular degeneration and atherosclerosis), but zinc can also help with pneumonia and infection.

It helps your body produce T-cells and natural killer cells in addition to its boost to antioxidant production and immune defense.

It makes older adults respond more positively to the influenza vaccine and it even improves psychological performance and reduces stress.

One study showed that infection rates in older adults who supplemented with 45 mg of zinc per day were reduced by 66%.

What Zinc is Good For (But Still Being Researched)

We know what zinc is good for from the list above, but emerging research shows there may be even more benefits to taking it!

A 2017 study on rodents indicates that zinc may improve cognitive performance and enhance memory. However, there hasn't yet been any human studies to confirm.

Another study from 2020 showed that some neurological symptoms may actually be related to low zinc levels. More research is needed to confirm this is the case.

We are learning what zinc is good for with respect to male fertility, as well. It's essential for male sexual health because of its hormone-balancing and antioxidant properties. However, it's important not to take too much as this can be harmful to sperm.

What Happens if I Take Zinc Everyday?

Now that you know what zinc is good for, you are probably wondering how often you should take it.

Adults should take 8-11 mg per day, and no more than 40 mg per day. If you're coming down with cold-like symptoms, talk with your doctor about whether a higher dose is a good idea (in the studies discussed above, a higher dose was typically used).

If you take your recommended dose, zinc is a very beneficial nutrient. However, zinc can cause nausea and vomiting if you take too much. Taking too much over a long period of time can decrease copper levels and immunity.

When Should I Take Zinc?

It's best to take zinc 1 hour before meals or 2 hours after. If you experience discomfort, you can take it with a meal.

You should also make sure you're taking the best absorbed form of zinc. To find out what zinc is good for your needs, read this article!

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