With the change of seasons comes the increased chances of catching a cold or the flu. While there are many cold and flu medications, we tend to favor those with zinc as the main ingredient. From lozenges to hot beverages, many are designed around this mineral to help alleviate symptoms. Zinc benefits go beyond cold and flu relief. This amazing mineral helps the body in many of its daily functions, without it our bodies cannot function as well as they should.
Since zinc is needed in small amounts we can get most of it through our foods and multivitamins.
According to the USDA, the dietary reference intakes for zinc below are based on age and gender: (1)
- 0–6 months: 2 milligrams/day
- 7–12 months: 3 milligrams/day
- 1–3 years: 3 milligrams/day
- 4–8 years: 5 milligrams/day
- 9 –13 years: 8 milligrams/day
Adolescents and adults:
- Males age 14 and over: 11 milligrams/day
- Females age 14 to 18 years: 9 milligrams/day
- Females age 19 and over: 8 milligrams/day
Everything from skeletal, reproductive and organ systems need zinc to function properly. Having a zinc deficiency can lead to severe hormonal issues, nerve dysfunction, infertility, and even a change in the ability to taste and smell. Making sure you are receiving a daily dose of zinc becomes very crucial. Some additional zinc benefits include:
For men, zinc benefits every role in reproduction including the ability to naturally increase testosterone. For women, zinc is involved in the creation and releasing of eggs from the ovaries as well as the production of estrogen and progesterone. Both hormones are extremely important during conception and pregnancy.
Zinc deficiency is linked to many digestive related disorders including leaky gut and prophylaxis. Zinc supplementation has been shown to decrease the risk of many digestive disorders and has even been shown to be an effective cure for acute diarrhea.
Zinc has many roles that can affect the health of a person’s liver. Zinc has been shown to be effective in reducing infections and reversing liver damage. It has also been used to aid in cleansing the liver as well as increasing nutrient absorption. It has also been shown to have some positive effects in repairing the damage done by alcoholics on their livers from drinking.
The endothelium, which is a thin layer of cells in blood vessels, relies on zinc for its overall health. Zinc has a unique ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress on these cells. By reducing stress, this can also aid in the reduction of the effects of high blood pressure.
Since zinc is crucial in the body’s mechanics of cell division, it has been used to aid the body in the reduction in the risk of contracting certain types of cancers. This division of cells, compounded with the zinc’s antioxidant properties help in reducing oxidative stress, in turn helping the body fight certain cancers.
As shown above zinc is responsible for aiding the women’s body in creating and releasing eggs. It also plays a pivotal role in the creation and release of the hormones progesterone and estrogen. Both hormones are crucial in both becoming pregnant and maintaining a healthy and safe pregnancy.
Zinc is used by the body in the process of the release of testosterone, IGF-1, and HGH which is directly responsible for aiding the body in muscle repair and growth. Used with higher intensity training, zinc can increase the release of these hormones to increase muscle growth. This is why most lifters use supplements that include zinc.
SOURCES OF ZINC:
- Lamb: 3 ounces contains 2.9 mg
- Grass-fed beef: 3 ounces contains 2.6 mg
- Chickpeas: 1 cup cooked contains 2.5 mg
- Cashews: 1/4 cup contains 1.9 mg
- Chicken: 3 ounces contains 1 mg
- Turkey: 3 ounces contains 1 mg
- Eggs: 1 large contains .6 mg
It is easy to ingest the daily minimum requirement of zinc needed to keep the body functioning well. Deficiency of zinc may lead to everything from digestive disorders to nerve damage. Adding in small amounts of zinc is easy and may lead to prevention of many illnesses. Foods like lamb, chicken and even chickpeas are prime sources of zinc, making it easy for both vegans and non-vegans to get their necessary amounts of zinc.