Trace minerals are essential for good health, and zinc is one of the most abundant of these minerals. It is found throughout all systems of the human body and is required for healthy immunity, cell division and healing and even for the breakdown of carbohydrates. And more recently, zinc is a standard in supplements for immunity, while some use for seasonal immune challenges.
Zinc is an essential nutrient, which means your body doesn’t make it. Because of this we must obtain it through diet, including foods like seafood, beans, nuts, dairy products and enriched cereals or grains. For those who have digestive issues or absorption problems, zinc supplements can help fill the void.
Benefits of Zinc
Zinc has been shown to be necessary for wound healing, protein and DNA synthesis and even for immune support. When zinc levels are low, one might experience a lowered or weak immune response, and many studies show that zinc levels decline with age. Because of this, ensuring we get enough through diet or supplementation may help people avoid this. Check out these zinc benefits.
Immune Response – A declining immune system is a normal part of aging, and even a small zinc deficiency can exacerbate the problem. Fortunately, it seems the supplementing with zinc can improve immune response in the elderly. (1) In addition, a review of studies shows that supplementing with zinc lozenges reduced the duration of the common cold by an average of 33%. (2)
Lastly, the Cochrane Group, often considered the gold standard in medical research, concluded that if zinc was taken within 24 hours of the onset of seasonal challenges, one might experience milder symptoms for a shorter time.
Accelerated Wound Healing – Our immune system fights of harmful pathogens like bacteria and viruses, but it is also responsible for helping our bodies heal from injury. This may be why it is used by those in the medical community as a treatment for burns and other skin injuries. In one study, zinc increased wound healing in patients with diabetic foot ulcers.
Lower Internal Inflammation – Chronic internal inflammation leads to damage of healthy cells and is linked to chronic diseases like arthritis, heart disease and even cancer. Fortunately, lifestyle factors like diet and exercise play a role in this condition, meaning we can have an impact on this risk factor with healthier choices. Zinc seems to have an anti-inflammatory action, and six months of supplementation suggested that zinc may support blood flow. (3)
Since zinc is important in numerous body systems and involved in functions like cell repair and growth, it is important to ensure you get enough in your diet. The recommended RDA is 8mg for women and 11mg for men, with the Tolerable Upper Level (or maximum amount) is 40mg for all. If you don’t get enough through your diet, supplements can help make up the deficit.
1 Haase H, Rink L. The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging. Immun Ageing. 2009;6:9. Published 2009 Jun 12. doi:10.1186/1742-4933-6-9
2 Hemilä H. Zinc lozenges and the common cold: a meta-analysis comparing zinc acetate and zinc gluconate, and the role of zinc dosage. JRSM Open. 2017 May 2;8(5):2054270417694291. doi: 10.1177/2054270417694291. PMID: 28515951; PMCID: PMC5418896.
3 Bao B, Prasad AS, Beck FW, et al. Zinc decreases C-reactive protein, lipid peroxidation, and inflammatory cytokines in elderly subjects: a potential implication of zinc as an atheroprotective agent. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(6):1634-1641. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28836