The Proven Benefits of Zinc to Health

  • Zinc has numerous health benefits.
  • Zinc can help boost the immune system and promote proper growth and development. 
  • However, taking too much zinc can lead to anemia or copper deficiency. 

Research suggests that taking higher doses of zinc supplements may provide benefits for certain individuals.

Trista Best, RD, MPH, an environmental health specialist and consultant with Balance One Supplements, says it’d be difficult to consume more than 40 mg of zinc per day from food sources alone. The NIH says 40 mg of zinc per day is the tolerable upper limit. Zinc overdose can cause copper deficiency or anemia. 

Still, Hartford, Connecticut–based dietitian Summer Yule, RD, recommends consuming whole foods over supplements when possible, as supplements may interact with certain medications. 

Below are seven potential benefits you can get from zinc supplements.

1. Boosts Immune System

According to Best, immune cells rely on zinc for optimum development and function.

A meta-analysis published in JRSM Open in May 2017 found that at least 75 mg of zinc daily shortened the duration of the common cold by 33 percent. Another meta-analysis in the April 2017 issue of the Open Forum Infectious Disease found that patients who took 80 to 92 mg of zinc per day recovered from their colds three times faster than those who did not. This has led the researchers to recommend the intake of zinc acetate lozenges within 24 hours of having symptoms.

According to a review published in July 2020 in Frontiers in Immunology, zinc might also help people with COVID-19. 

2. Decreases Risk of Preterm Birth

Zinc is essential in producing proteins and DNA, and promotes proper growth and development, says the NIH. According to a review published in February 2015 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, preterm birth was reduced by 14% percent when expectant mothers took a zinc supplement. However, the research involved low-income women whose diet may not provide sufficient zinc, to begin with.

According to Best, she’d only recommend a zinc supplement to a pregnant woman with deficiency. The recommended daily intake of zinc for women 18 and older who are pregnant is 11 mg per day, and 12 mg for 14 to 18-year-olds who are pregnant.

3. Supports Childhood Growth

A March 2018 meta-analysis published in Nutrients says zinc supplementation in infants and young children supports healthy growth, especially after they turn two. Talk to your child’s pediatrician before giving your child supplements.

4. Manages Blood Sugar

Research published in the January–April 2020 issue of the Journal of Family and Community Medicine found that 67.9 percent of participants from the group with diabetes had a zinc deficiency. However, it’s not clear whether diabetes caused zinc deficiency or vice versa.

A study published in Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome found that zinc supplementation helped control blood sugar and promoted healthy lipid levels among diabetes patients. Zinc supplements also promote insulin sensitivity among obese individuals, according to an April 2017 study published in Biological Trace Element Research.

Megan Wong, RD, says the hormone insulin prevents sugar from building up in the blood. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor about zinc supplementation.

5. Slows the Progression of Macular Degeneration

Per a systematic review published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, taking zinc-containing AREDS supplement may prevent the progression of macular degeneration either by promoting retinal health or providing adequate zinc levels for older adults with zinc deficiency, says an April 2019 study published in Antioxidants.

6. Clears Up Acne

Zinc is anti-inflammatory and can also reduce oil production, which can prevent acne, says Best. A Dermatology study found that zinc improved acne in patients, but not as well as minocycline, a prescription antibiotic. Zinc’s anti-acne properties also haven’t been studied thoroughly, so remember to discuss with your doctor before trying it. 

7. Promotes a Healthy Heart and Blood Vessels

According to an August 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis published in Nutrition & Metabolism, zinc supplements lowered total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides. A Nutrition Research and Practice study also found that higher zinc intake lowered systolic blood pressure readings among a small group of obese Korean women. However, the researchers weren’t sure why and how zinc does it.


Source: Everyday Health

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