Zinc is an essential trace mineral required in very small amount by our body. It is called essential because it is indeed very essential by our body for various health benefits. Our body does not store zinc so we must consume it on daily basis in required amount. An adult man requires around 11-12 mg of zinc per day and an adult woman needs 8-10 mg per day as per RDA. However, needs vary for women during pregnancy and lactation and increases to 12 mg.
Zinc is responsible for many functions in the body and it helps to stimulate at least 100 enzymes and hormones in the body. We shall discuss each of them in detail:
- Builds strong immunity
According to research zinc is needed to activate T-lymphocytes by our body. T cells play a role in the body by controlling and regulating immune responses and attacking infected or cancerous cells. Zinc deficient people have higher susceptibility to infections by different pathogens.
2. Treats diarrhoea
Supplementing zinc in children with diarrhoea has shown good results. Zinc supplements along with ORS solutions should be given for great and quick results.
3. Prevents reoccurring cold and flu
Zinc builds strong immunity and therefore it prevents reoccurring of common cold, flu and upper respiratory tract infections. It also prevents spread of swine flu, ear infections and urinary tract infections.
4. Improves learning and memory power
Zinc interacts with neurons in brain and increase and improves memory and learning power in children and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s in older people.
5. Helps in wound healing
People experiencing longer time to heal wound have shown low serum zinc levels. Zinc helps in tissue repair and maintaining the skin integrity and structure. It reduces inflammation and bacterial growth. Skin creams for wound healing have zinc sulphate as major ingredient.
6. Reduces the risk of age related chronic disease: Zinc supplementation has proved to be very much beneficial for age related chronic disease like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, cardiovascular disease, stomach ulcers, inflammatory bowel syndrome, Alzheimer’s, etc.
7. Prevents age related macular degeneration
Zinc prevents cellular damage in retina. It helps in the transport of Vitamin A from liver to retina to produce melanin pigment for eye sight protection. Also, protects against night blindness.
8. Prevents cancers
Zinc supplements help to prevent cancers like oesophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer and many more.
9. Stimulates taste buds and improve appetite
Zinc deficiency can cause blunt taste or no taste in mouth. Taste buds become inactive if you have low zinc levels because brain areas which sensitize tastes and smells require zinc for its function. Moreover zinc also helps to have good appetite.
Zinc and men’s health
Zinc is very important element for men’s health. Men over 40 years of age should consider taking zinc supplement for variety of reasons. Let us look at these benefits:
- Increases testosterone hormone production: Zinc supplementation of 30 mg per day to a group of men in a study found that there was an remarkable increase in the production of total and free testosterone. Testosterone is responsible for healthy prostate gland which ultimately improves sexual health. Zinc supplementation reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction and impotency. Thus improving the quality of sperms.
- Increases energy and endurance: Zinc helps in energy production in muscles and tissues and therefore low zinc levels are associated with low energy levels and weakness. Zinc helps to have muscle power and efficient cardiorespiratory endurance. Therefore all energy drinks and energy bars and capsules are loaded with zinc as major ingredient.
- Improves brain health: Zinc supplementation prevents age related brain disorders like schizophrenia, Wilson’s disease, epileptic seizures and Alzheimer’s.
Zinc and women’s health
Just as in case of men, zinc plays similar important role in women’s health also. Let’s have a look at each of them:
- Reduces menstrual cramps
Zinc supplementation reduces the intensity and pain during menstruation. Women with heavy and painful menstruation have increased prostaglandins hormone. Zinc helps to lower the prostaglandin and therefore reduces the menstrual cramps and pain caused.
2. Regulates menstrual cycle: Zinc helps to regulate the oestrogen production and regulates the ovulation process.
3. Role after menopause: Zinc levels drops due to low oestrogen level after menopause causing decrease in other elements like calcium, magnesium and phosphorus also. These drops in such important minerals can further cause conditions like osteoporosis.
Even though zinc is the last element in the periodic table its importance can be considered at number one in the list!