Searching for your superhero mineral? Look no further, zinc to the rescue!
For humans, zinc is an essential mineral. This means that our bodies cannot produce it, so we need to get it from food and supplementation. Since it’s a micronutrient, we only need it in small amounts, but it has big shoes to fill! It’s an important player in many aspects of health and is well known for its roles in immune function, hormone regulation, and skin health. Let’s dive into these benefits of zinc!
Zinc and immune health
Zinc supports our immune system by helping with the maturation of immune cells including T-cells, B-cells, and natural killer cells. These types of cells are important for identifying and targeting any threats to our bodies and work to keep us healthy.
As an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, zinc is also important to immune support, alongside its antiviral activity. By interfering with viral replication, zinc helps to stabilize our immune cells.
Both zinc and vitamin C support our immune health, but what happens when you combine them?
They act synergistically to offer powerful protection to your immune cells from reactive oxygen species (ROS). Immune cells are exposed to and produce high concentrations of these ROS. In order to keep them functional, we need to maintain a healthy environment for them to thrive in.
Taking a bioavailable supplement that includes both zinc and vitamin C is a great way to support your immune health.
Zinc and hormone health
Zinc is also an important player in hormone health. It is essential in regulating our microscopic biological processes including thyroid hormone metabolism, as well as melatonin and growth hormone synthesis. These processes have a domino effect on other hormones and systems in the body.
Similar to how it supports your immune system, zinc is important in the maturation of reproductive cells and thus, has an important role in both female and male fertility.
Zinc and skin health
Another area that zinc supports is skin health. Taken orally or used topically, zinc is well known for its antibacterial properties and for its use in inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, acne, and rosacea.
In topical application, zinc acts as a protector against potentially harmful free radicals and is able to protect skin from the sun’s UV rays. This is why you often see zinc oxide in sunscreen, or why you might see a lifeguard with their nose covered in white paste!
Do I need more zinc?
Consuming and absorbing enough zinc to prevent a deficiency is tricky. There are factors that can add to your risk of becoming deficient including not consuming enough dietary zinc.
Sources of dietary zinc include:
- Red meat
- Fish and shellfish
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
In addition to a lack of zinc-rich foods in your diet, aging can also have an effect on our body’s ability to absorb zinc. Keep an eye out for key indicators that you aren’t getting enough zinc.
Signs that you may be deficient in zinc include:
- Loss of appetite, taste, and smell
- Decreased immune function
- Abnormal fluctuations in weight
- Hair loss
- Slow wound healing
- Mental lethargy
Zinc deficiency is fairly common, but taking steps to improve your zinc status is easy and accessible. If you think you may be deficient in zinc, we recommend working with your healthcare practitioner to have your zinc levels monitored, and create a holistic plan to improve your zinc status.