Zinc is an essential trace element found throughout the body whose significance to health is increasingly being recognized. Indeed, zinc is intimately involved in immune system function and metabolism as well as is required for proper gene expression, protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, wound healing, growth, and development. Though zinc is naturally found in a wide variety of animal and plant foods, today’s food supply contains far less zinc than it did in generations past.
So, what are the top reasons to take a zinc supplement? Let’s explore.
Soils Are Depleted
Zinc deficiency in plants occurs when growth is limited because the plant cannot take up sufficient quantities of this essential micronutrient from its growing medium. Indeed, its deficiency is one of the most widespread micronutrient deficiencies in crops and pastures worldwide and causes massive losses in crop production and crop quality. Depleted soil is in large part responsible for the nearly two billion people today who are zinc deficient, a major risk factor for immune deficiency and increased susceptibility to infection.
Can’t Get Enough From Food
According to an article published in the journal Scientific Reports, it is estimated that nearly 1.1 billion people are zinc-deficient as a result of an inadequate intake of zinc via diet, it’s important to make the distinction here between those that are deficient as a result of the prevalence of zinc depleted foods, as opposed to those that are deficient as a result of restrictive diets for instance. Indeed, certain individuals may not be getting enough it through their diet because of chronically high alcohol consumption or because of diets low in animal protein such as vegetarianism and veganism, which either impair the body’s ability to absorb it or are diets low in zinc. In such instances, its supplement is a wise idea to help top up levels of it and prevent clinical deficiency.
We Need More Now Than Before
One of the reasons why dietary zinc deficiency is so common today is due to high fibre intake and diets high in zinc inhibitors. Inhibitors such as phytates, which affect its absorption, are present in large quantities in staple foods like: cereals, corn, and rice, all of which have a significant impact on zinc absorption from meals. The sharp rise in gastrointestinal diseases has further contributed to the increased prevalence of it deficiency (and the subsequent need for zinc supplementation) since conditions such as celiac, Crohn’s disease, and many others impede it absorption in the small intestine.
Zinc acts as a co-factor for key enzymes involved in the functioning of the antioxidant defence system, and protects cells against oxidative damage, which is known to be involved in the development of some of the most common age-related diseases including atherosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and Alzheimer’s. This is why zinc supplementation is ideal to help boost the body’s overall antioxidant potential and help protect against free radical damage and oxidative stress.
Boosts Immune System
When it comes to immunity, zinc is a foundational mineral, working hard to keep immune cells primed and ready to fight off bacteria and viruses, while simultaneously ensuring the immune system doesn’t overreact. Indeed, research has shown that zinc-deficient people show a wide range of immune dysfunctions, and are far more prone to catching the cold and flu and myriad other infections. This is the precise reason why it has long had a reputation as a potent immune booster and is widely recognized for its ability to shorten the duration and mitigate the intensity of the common cold and flu, and other infections.
Makes Other Things Work Better
Zinc is a vital micronutrient involved in many cellular processes throughout the body, including wound healing, neurotransmitter release, skin and eye health, cellular metabolism, protein and DNA synthesis, and growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence. Even mere subpar levels of zinc can impede a range of bodily functions, which is why topping up on your it can go a long way to optimizing the way all of your body systems work.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.
Roos Jonsin is a Canadian naturopath and researcher dedicated to helping people live healthier lives through education about vitamins, herbs, and nutritional supplements. Roos also consults with suppliers and manufacturers with product development and marketing. National Nutrition is Canada’s leading health & nutritional supplements store, also voted as the Best Health Food Store in Canada by the experts at Canadian Health Food Association.