The Health Benefits of Zinc – A Product Your Body Does NOT Produce

Zinc has numerous health benefits ranging from immunity benefits (particularly vital during the coronavirus pandemic) and has a range of other health benefits.

Because your body doesn’t naturally produce zinc it is a nutrient that needs to be obtained through supplements or other, ‘outside sources’.

So what are the health benefits of zinc, including its functions, health benefits, dosage recommendations and potential side effects that it may have for you?

What Is Zinc?

Zinc is considered an essential nutrient that the body needs, meaning that your body can’t produce or store it.

For this reason, you must get a constant supply through your diet or through other sources like supplements.

Zinc is required for numerous processes in your body, including (1):

  • Gene expression
  • Enzymatic reactions
  • Immune function
  • Protein synthesis
  • DNA synthesis
  • Wound healing
  • Growth and development

Zinc is naturally found in a wide variety of both plant and animal foods.

Foods that don’t naturally contain this mineral, such as breakfast cereals, snack bars and baking flour, are often fortified with synthetic forms of zinc.

You can also take zinc supplements or multi-nutrient supplements that provide zinc.

Because of its role in immune function, zinc is likewise added to some nasal sprays, lozenges and other natural cold treatments.

SUMMARY

Zinc is an essential mineral that your body does not make on its own. It aids growth, DNA synthesis, immune function and more.

Role in Your Body

Zinc is a vital mineral that your body uses in countless ways.

In fact, zinc is the second-most-abundant trace mineral in your body — after iron — and is present in every cell (2Trusted Source).

Zinc is necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function and many other processes (3Trusted Source).

In addition, it’s critical for the development and function of immune cells (4Trusted Source).

This mineral is also fundamental to skin health, DNA synthesis and protein production (5Trusted Source).

What’s more, body growth and development relies on zinc because of its role in cell growth and division (6Trusted Source).

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 (7Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Zinc is essential for cell growth and division, immune function, enzyme reactions, DNA synthesis and protein production.

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Zinc Health Benefits

Research shows that zinc has numerous health benefits.

Boosts Your Immune System

Zinc helps keep your immune system strong.

Because it is necessary for immune cell function and cell signaling, a deficiency can lead to a weakened immune response.

Zinc supplements stimulate particular immune cells and reduce oxidative stress.

For example, a review of seven studies demonstrated that 80–92 mg per day of zinc may reduce the length of the common cold by up to 33% (8Trusted Source).

What’s more, zinc supplements significantly reduce the risk of infections and promote immune response in older adults (9Trusted Source).

Accelerates Wound Healing

Zinc is commonly used in hospitals as a treatment for burns, certain ulcers and other skin injuries (10Trusted Source).

Because this mineral plays critical roles in collagen synthesis, immune function and inflammatory response, it is necessary for proper healing.

In fact, your skin holds a relatively high amount — about 5% — of your body’s zinc content (11Trusted Source).

While a zinc deficiency can slow wound healing, supplementing with zinc can speed recovery in people with wounds.

For example, in a 12-week study in 60 people with diabetic foot ulcers, those treated with 200 mg of zinc per day experienced significant reductions in ulcer size compared to a placebo group (12Trusted Source).

May Reduce the Risk of Certain Age-Related Diseases

Zinc may significantly reduce your risk of age-related diseases, such as pneumonia, infection and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Zinc may relieve oxidative stress and improve immune response by boosting the activity of T-cells and natural killer cells, which help protect your body from infection (13Trusted Source).

Older adults who supplement with zinc experience improved influenza vaccination response, reduced risk of pneumonia and boosted mental performance (14Trusted Source15Trusted Source16Trusted Source).

In fact, one study determined that 45 mg per day of zinc may decrease infection rates in older adults by nearly 66% (17Trusted Source).

Additionally, in a large study in over 4,200 people, taking daily antioxidant supplements — vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene — plus 80 mg of zinc decreased vision loss and significantly reduced the risk of advanced AMD (18Trusted Source).

May Help Treat Acne

Acne is a common skin disease that is estimated to affect up to 9.4% of the global population (19Trusted Source).

Acne is driven by obstruction of oil-producing glands, bacteria and inflammation (20Trusted Source).

Studies suggest that both topical and oral zinc treatments can effectively treat acne by reducing inflammation, inhibiting the growth of P. acnes bacteria and suppressing oily gland activity (21Trusted Source).

People with acne tend to have lower levels of zinc. Therefore, supplements may help reduce symptoms (22Trusted Source).

Decreases Inflammation

Zinc decreases oxidative stress and reduces levels of certain inflammatory proteins in your body (23Trusted Source).

Oxidative stress leads to chronic inflammation, a contributing factor in a wide array of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer and mental decline (24Trusted Source).

In a study in 40 older adults, those who took 45 mg of zinc per day experienced greater reductions in inflammatory markers than a placebo group (25Trusted Source).