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January 5, 2022
3 min. read

5 Reasons Why It Might Be Worth Taking a Zinc Supplement

Medly

Zinc is the second-most abundant trace mineral found in the body, second only to iron. An essential micronutrient that’s involved in more than 200 enzymatic reactions , zinc also plays a key role in genetic expression, cell division and growth. In other words, this tiny mineral has a pretty big job to do—but the caveat is that our bodies can’t produce zinc on its own. Instead, it must be consumed via diet or supplementation.

How much zinc do most people need?

The recommended daily amount of zinc is 8 milligrams (mg) for women and 11 mg for adult men. Pregnant or breastfeeding people should also aim for 11 mg and 12 mg of zinc each day (respectively) to support increased nutrient demands during those life stages.

Zinc

What foods contain zinc?

In most diets, the majority of zinc%20also%20contain%20zinc.) comes from red meat, poultry, and oysters, with lesser amounts from beans and nuts—which means it can be tricky for those with dietary restrictions to consume enough zinc through food alone.

Who is susceptible to a zinc deficiency?

Populations particularly susceptible to a zinc deficiency are athletes who engage in prolonged activity and lose zinc in sweat; vegans or vegetarians who have lower dietary intakes; the elderly due to decreased intake and poor absorption; teenagers because of poor diet; and immune-compromised individuals and burn victims due to increased need.

zinc benefits

What are the benefits of taking a zinc supplement?

There are a number of conditions that benefit from zinc supplementation:

  • Zinc deficiency. Though uncommon in the United States, treatment for zinc deficiency usually requires oral zinc and shows quick improvement. Symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of appetite and impaired immune function, as well as hair loss and skin lesions.
  • Common colds. Studies have shown that taking zinc within twenty-four hours after cold symptoms start can reduce the severity and duration of the cold.
  • Wound healing. Zinc plays a major role in regulating every phase of the wound healing process. Those with skin ulcers or those who are living with zinc deficiencies might benefit from zinc supplementation.
  • Diarrhea. Specifically in children suffering from malnutrition, zinc supplements can help with symptoms of diarrhea. There isn’t enough evidence, however, that zinc helps children with diarrhea that have a healthy, varied diet.
  • Age-related macular degeneration. Studies suggest that the progression of macular degeneration, an eye disease that can blur your central vision, can be slowed by taking oral zinc.

zinc diet

What should I know about supplementing with zinc?

If you’re thinking about taking a zinc supplement, the recommended daily amount of zinc is 8 milligrams (mg) for women and 11 mg for adult men, 11 mg for pregnant individuals, and 12 mg for breastfeeding individuals. But be careful to take your zinc orally, as intranasal zinc has been linked with the loss of the sense of smell. The National Institutes of Health considers 40 mg of zinc a day to be the upper limit dose for adults, and 4 mg of zinc a day for infants under age 6 months. Be sure not to exceed this upper limit as doing so can cause copper deficiency .

Before taking any sort of zinc supplement, make sure you talk to your provider. They’ll be able to help you decipher if you’re experiencing any side effects from the supplement, and can help you avoid any possible drug interactions.

Sources: 1. Zinc. (2020, November 17). Mayo Clinic. 2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Office of dietary supplements - zinc. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from 3. Maret W. (2013). Zinc biochemistry: from a single zinc enzyme to a key element of life. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 4(1), 82–91. 4. Bhattacharya, P. T., Misra, S. R., & Hussain, M. (2016). Nutritional Aspects of Essential Trace Elements in Oral Health and Disease: An Extensive Review. Scientifica, 2016, 5464373. 5. Maxfield L, Shukla S, Crane JS. Zinc Deficiency. [Updated 2021 Aug 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:

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