Zinc is a trace element in plants, humans and animals. The human adult body contains around 2-3 grams of zinc which can be found in fluids, organs, tissues and cells. Most of this element is found in the bones and muscles, though high amounts of zinc can also be found in the semen and prostate gland.
Then what are the zinc benefits? Zinc assists with many biological functions and assists with 300 enzymes and their roles within the body. Getting enough zinc in the diet is essential to the overall health.
Zinc Benefits on Health
The element is an antioxidant and helps with healthy cell division, which helps to prevent diseases like cancer. Zinc also helps the body regulate the endocrine function to keep a balance of proper hormone levels.
1. Build and Repair Cells and Tissues
One of the zinc benefits is that it can help to build and repair cells and tissues. The cells within the body can see a boost in maintenance and production with the proper zinc levels. Those that suffer from ulcers or similar internal damage can see an increased recovery time if you increase your zinc intake. Zinc is also known for strengthening tissue like that in the bronchioles and lungs to increase production of these areas.
- Muscles: A majority of the zinc found in the body is in the muscles. It helps to build muscle and repair muscles after strenuous activity. Exercises such as weight-training put strain on the muscles, causing tears in the tissue. The muscles then use elements like zinc to repair these tears, allowing the muscles to grow. Zinc is also a vital antioxidant that helps the body get more energy so the muscles can remain active. It helps important muscles like the hearts stay free of free radicals to avoid damage.
- Bones: Zinc assists with “bone mineralization,” a process that binds minerals to the matrix so bones can harden and become stronger. When your bones break, having plenty of zinc in your system will help you repair them. This element will also help keep the teeth strong and prevent cavities. Zinc is also the key in helping the body produce calcitonin hormones that regulate your bone health, one of the most valuable zinc benefits.
- Skin: The skin constantly regenerates new cells, which makes adequate zinc levels essential to healthy skin. Zinc also helps to enable vitamin A, which is helpful in making healthy skin cells. Zinc can help the skin repair damage like cuts or burns and can help you better treat conditions like acne, boils, dandruff, bedsores, dermatitis or dry skin.
- Nail and Hair: Like skin, the hair and nails regularly grow. Zinc assists with keratin production that is necessary to producing healthy skin and nails. Those that suffer from poor hair growth, brittle nails or hair loss can help address these issues with zinc supplements.
2. Promote Growing
Children and adolescents are growing at a much faster rate than adults, which means they need more zinc in their systems to help regenerate new cell tissue. Zinc is also helpful in producing the necessary growth hormones. Studies have found that children who do not get enough zinc are more prone to dwarfism. Zinc is helpful in the production of stomach acid and the digestive enzymes in the pancreas, helping you digest your food more effectively. Producing the right amount of stomach acid can also help you avoid conditions like heartburn.
3. Boost Immune System
Zinc benefits can also be demonstrated through its ability to build healthy cells in your immune system, helping you produce an adequate amount to fight off diseases. Taking zinc supplements while you are sick can help you replace the immune system cells that are being killed off fighting the infection. Taking zinc can also help you reduce your risk of developing warts and increase your recover time from infections like herpes. Any number of minor conditions like bad breath, bodily odors or tooth decay that can be caused by bacterial or fungal presence can be eliminated with proper zinc supplementation.
4. Detoxify Nasty Chemicals
The antioxidant properties in zinc helps to break down free radicals and will help produce gluthione that helps to absorb and neutralize free radicals. This can protect the body from developing conditions like aging, cataracts, sun damage, macular degeneration, cancer and others that are caused by the presence of free radicals. Zinc can also help the body rid itself of toxins like cadmium, arsenic, lead and mercury. It can also help the body detoxify alcohol so it cannot do damage to the liver.
5. Maintain Functioning and Balance
There are over 100 enzymes within the body that can be assisted with the presence of zinc. Protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism and others require zinc to manage effectively. Zinc also helps to maintain the body’s proper pH and produce hormones like testosterone, insulin or cortisol. Zinc is necessary for healthy insulin production, the hormone that is essential to regulating your blood sugar. This can help you maintain healthy energy levels and control your cravings more effectively.
6. Control Nervous System
Having an adequate amount of zinc in the system helps you maintain your appetite, smell, taste, hear and maintain your libido. It also helps the body produce omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for proper brain function. Besides the many zinc benefits mentioned before, zinc is also frequently used to treat conditions like schizophrenia, dyslexia, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, apathy and depression while boosting your learning and memory skills.
7. Benefit Fertility and Pregnancy
Enzyme 5 alpha reductase helps to convert testosterone to DHA which can cause prostate enlargement and hair loss. Zinc can help inhibit the production of this enzyme so these negative processes are less likely to occur. Women also need to improve their zinc intake during lactation to ensure that they can continue to produce healthy cells to support this activity.
Food Sources of Zinc
Items like mussels, lobster and crab contain a great deal of zinc. Just six oysters contain seven times the daily recommended allowance of zinc.
Many meats including pork, beef, lamb, salmon and the dark meat of chicken and turkey are high sources of zinc. Just be sure to avoid excess cholesterol intake when increasing your meat intake to avoid other health issues.
Many cereals are fortified with zinc. Multi-grain, whole grain or brand cereals have a particularly high concentration of zinc. However, read the ingredients to ensure you are not purchasing a cereal that also contains phytates as this element inhibits proper zinc absorption.
Items like peanuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds provide a healthy vegetarian option for those that need to increase their zinc intake.