Around 2 billion individuals worldwide are zinc deficient, and up to 15% of US adults are estimated to be deficient in this essential mineral. Zinc deficiency may lead to a weakened immune system, impaired growth, impaired wound healing, and even mood swings. Read on to learn how zinc helps boost your immune system, its many other benefits, and sources.
Why Is Zinc Important for Your Body?
Every cell in your body contains zinc, the second most prevalent trace essential mineral. It is required for the action of more than 300 enzymes that help with metabolism, brain function, digestion, skin health, and DNA and protein synthesis. Additionally, zinc is necessary for body growth and development due to its function in cell growth and division. The perceptions of taste and smell rely on zinc as well.
Zinc Boosts Your Immune System
Studies show that zinc is important in almost all aspects of both innate and adaptive immune systems. It supports skin cells and cells that line our organs as a barrier from pathogens, and it keeps the bone marrow and thymus (which produce immune cells) working properly.
Zinc deficiency is associated with a wide spectrum of immune dysfunctions, as zinc is essential for immune cell function and cell communication. Additionally, zinc supplementation has been shown to boost specific immune cells (natural killer cells and T-cells) and lower oxidative stress. For example, a review of seven research studies found that taking 80–92 mg of zinc daily can shorten the duration of a cold by up to 33%.
Furthermore, zinc supplementation improves influenza vaccine response, lowers the risk of pneumonia, and improves mental function in older adults. According to one study, taking 45 mg of elemental zinc daily can reduce infection risk in older persons by 66%.
Zinc Reduces Inflammation
Chronic inflammation, caused by oxidative stress, is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and cognitive impairment. Zinc helps to lower oxidative stress in your body as well as the amounts of certain inflammatory proteins in your bloodstream and tissues. Researchers found that taking 45 mg of zinc daily reduced inflammatory markers more than a placebo group in a trial of 40 older individuals.
Zinc Promotes Wound Healing and Skin Health
About 5% of your body's zinc is stored in your skin. This mineral is essential for optimal healing because it plays a crucial role in collagen formation, immunological function, and inflammatory response. As a result, healthcare providers routinely recommend zinc to patients with burns, ulcers, and other skin ailments. Zinc deficiency can impair wound healing; however, zinc supplementation can accelerate recovery among those with wounds. Taking zinc orally can also help improve conditions of acne by lowering inflammation, limiting the development of bacteria and regulating oil gland activity.
Signs of zinc deficiency can include the following: Diarrhea, lowered immunity, mood swings, dry skin, infertility, and delayed wound healing. The major risk factors for zinc deficiency are poor dietary intake, aging and poor absorption.
The Bottom Line
Zinc plays many important roles in your body. It helps your body fight off infections, boosts your immune system, aid growth, decrease inflammation, etc.
Zinc is not naturally produced by the body and therefore must be obtained through food or supplementation. Zinc supplementation is ideal for those with risk of deficiency, especially the aging population, to protect and boost the immune system.
Nu-Health’s Zinc is a quality and high potency zinc supplement that is formulated for high absorption. Additionally, it is available in a vegetarian based capsule.
This article is provided for informational purposes only. As always, please consult with a physician to determine your personal supplementation needs.
Caution: Supplemental zinc can inhibit the absorption and availability of copper.