An essential nutrient is a term that refers to any nutrient that is crucial for a large number of bodily functions but this nutrient is not naturally produced by the human body. Some of the most important essential nutrients are trace minerals, meaning that they are present in your body only in traces which isn’t enough to give your body its health benefits. As such, these essential nutrients should be taken in the form of food and supplements.
Zinc is the 2nd most abundant trace mineral after iron, and it is associated with a whole variety of health benefits. With a generous intake of zinc, you can be sure to maintain very good health in general. We shall be exploring all the factors associated with the intake of zinc in this article.
Research on the various health benefits of zinc
The very fact that zinc is an essential nutrient has driven a lot of scientific research on it. The extensive research carried out on zinc has made it one of the most popular nutrients to be used in almost every supplement out there:
- Boosts immunity: Zinc is widely used as one of the main nutrients to improve your immunity functions and work on reducing inflammation. Even when you consider something like the common cold, an intake of zinc significantly reduced the symptoms duration within just one day. Not just the common cold, but zinc also functions as a powerful antioxidant and helps in reducing the inflammatory effects of chronic conditions related to the heart and even diabetes. Furthermore, zinc also helps in combating infections among older people.
- Sexual functions: Zinc is one of the best minerals for sexual issues. Studies have established the enormous potential of zinc to treat erectile dysfunction as it helps in improving the flow of blood into the penis. In addition, it also aids in improving male fertility by improving the volume of sperm in semen ejaculated. Not to mention, zinc acts as a fantastic aphrodisiac. Therefore, it boosts sexual drive and sex life in both men and women.
- Controls blood sugar: Studies have established zinc as a powerful agent in controlling blood sugar levels and monitoring the secretion of insulin. This regulates the amount of sugar being carried to your tissues through blood. As such, zinc is excellent for diabetes. In fact, there is medical proof of the effectiveness of zinc for diabetes. Zinc helps your body in using insulin for efficiently in controlling diabetes.
- Skincare: Zinc has demonstrated itself as being excellent for the skin. Zinc sulfate helps in reducing severe acne and completely diminish its symptoms. The usual concentration of zinc in a supplement is 30 mg. Studies have shown that this concentration of zinc is more than enough to reduce acne, by taking the zinc supplement over a period of 3 months.
- Cardiovascular health: Extensive studies have proven zinc’s effectiveness in lowering the levels of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (or the bad cholesterol). In addition, zinc also helps in reducing the concentration of triglycerides in the blood. Both of these factors contribute immensely in reducing the risk of heart disease. Zinc has been further shown to decrease the systolic blood pressure, which contributes towards the healthy functioning of the heart.
- Good for the eyes: The presence of zinc in supplements is known to decelerate the chances of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is one of the most common reasons for loss of vision. Just 50mg of zinc intake on a daily basis for a period of 3 months significantly reduced the development of AMD. This has been evidenced by studies.
Case study on the effectiveness of Zinc
In 2001, there was a huge increase in the number of essential nutrient supplements being produced by multiple companies worldwide. While iron based supplements were the most selling ones, zinc was recognised as the next most important mineral to be used in supplements. A large number of working professionals were give zinc supplements and their general health was monitored for a duration of 3 months. It was noticed that the overall health of those individuals improved vastly at the end of 3 months.
With the recognition of the various health benefits of zinc, it became a compulsory addition in the list of ingredients of many health supplements. This has only increased since then as numerous nutrition supplements companies have added zinc into their products.
The recommended dosage of elemental zinc is about 15 to 30mg per day.
However, high doses of zinc is associated with certain side effects. As such, it is suggested to take a maximum dosage of 40mg.
Who should take zinc supplements?
Zinc supplements are to be taken by adults.
For people with a zinc deficiency, take zinc supplements after consultation with the doctors.
Taken zinc supplementation within the recommended dosage and under medical supervision will no bring any side effects as such.
However, exceeding the dosage of 40mg per day may result in headaches, nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea and fever.
Foods with high zinc content
Zinc is a trace element. This implies that the human body contains a very low natural concentration of zinc. However, as it is an essential nutrient, your body definitely needs a good dosage of zinc on a daily basis. There are many foods which contain a high concentration of zinc in them. Including these foods into your diet can naturally provide your body with the optimal amounts of zinc required. For instance, men require about 11mg of zinc per day while women require about 8mg of zinc per day. These foods are your best bet to get zinc as required:
Meat, especially red meat, is linked to a good concentration of zinc. Beef, lamb, and pork are some of the most wholesome sources of zinc which give you 4.8mg of zinc per 100g of meat. That accounts for nearly 44% of the Daily Value (DV).
Oyster contains the highest concentration of zinc among all foods. Just half a dozen oysters can provide you with 32mg of zinc, accounting to a whopping 291% of the DV.
Seeds such as hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds have a good concentration of zinc in them. You can get anywhere between 30-40% of your DV with just 3 tablespoons of seeds.
Nuts are healthy snacks which have the potential to keep away several diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Almonds, peanuts and especially cashew nuts provide a decent amount of zinc with about 15% of the DV.
Dairy products such as milk and cheese are known to be extremely healthy and a rich source of many nutrients, including zinc. Milk provides about 9% of the DV while cheese provides about 28% of the DV. It is worth noting that the zinc in milk and cheese are present in the bioavailable form. As such, zinc can be absorbed more easily by your body through dairy products.
As one of the essential macronutrients, zinc supplements will always widely used and available. Regular intake of zinc is associated with several benefits which ultimately contribute towards overall health in general.
A dosage of zinc within the prescribed limits is today a compulsory addition to most health supplements. Just ensure that the dosage limits are met. You can even include foods rich in zinc in your diet. Such foods usually include oyster (highest concentration of zinc), meat, fish, nuts, whole grains and dairy.