Zinc plays a vital role in the body, especially when it comes to supporting your immune system. Below are 10 potential health benefits of taking zinc supplements:
- Colds. Studies suggest that taking syrups or lozenges containing zinc within 24 hours after the appearance of symptoms can shorten the duration of a cold.
- Infections. Zinc helps the body fight off infections and can reduce the risk of diseases such as pneumonia.
- Diarrhea. Children with diarrhea and who have a low level of zinc may benefit from taking zinc supplements, although it’s important to consult with your pediatrician before starting your child on zinc supplements.
- Wound healing. Taking zinc can help people with skin ulcers who suffer from zinc deficiency.
- Age-related macular degeneration. Studies show that taking zinc orally may delay the progression of this eye condition.
- Diaper rash and sunburn. Ointments or lotions containing zinc oxide can prevent conditions such as diaper rash and sunburn.
- Skin issues. Lack of zinc can cause issues such as acne and hair loss. To maintain normal growth and development, it's crucial to have adequate zinc.
- Sickle cell disease. People with sickle cell disease frequently have a zinc deficiency. According to studies, taking zinc supplements may help lessen the disease's symptoms. Children who took zinc experienced fewer sickle-cell crises and improved their height and weight.
- Stomach ulcers. Daily administration of 220 mg zinc sulfate reduced the size of peptic ulcers, and people who had normal serum zinc levels had better recovery. It appears that a high dose of zinc sulfate is considered necessary for maximum effect.
- Wilson's disease. According to preliminary research, zinc may help treat Wilson's disease, a condition that results in a buildup of copper in the body. Zinc decreases the amount of copper the body absorbs and therefore it may help lower copper levels in persons with Wilson's disease.
What does zinc do in your body?
Zinc is a nutrient that the body needs only in small amounts for carrying out vital chemical reactions and functions, including:
- DNA creation
- Cell growth
- Protein building
- Wound healing
- Supporting a healthy immune system
- Sense of taste and smell
What foods contain zinc?
The recommended daily amount of zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. Zinc is most effectively absorbed when consumed with a protein-rich meal.
Food sources of zinc include:
- Whole grains
- Fortified breakfast cereals
What are signs of zinc deficiency?
Zinc deficiency is rare. Signs may include:
What increases the risk of zinc deficiency?
Certain groups of people are more at risk of developing zinc deficiency. These include people with:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases or who have undergone gastrointestinal surgery
- Chronic liver or kidney disease
- Excessive or prolonged diarrhea
- Burns and sepsis
Pregnant women and vegetarians or vegans are also at increased risk of zinc deficiency.
What are the side effects of taking zinc?
Zinc supplements are generally safe. However, the use of intranasal zinc is not recommended because it has been linked with losing the sense of smell.
In some people, zinc supplements may cause side effects such as:
These symptoms typically manifest 3 to 10 hours after taking the supplements. After discontinuing the pills, the symptoms disappear quickly.
Taking oral zinc for a prolonged period can cause copper levels to become abnormally low. Copper deficiency may result in neurological symptoms, such as tingling sensation and numbness in the limbs.
The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults take no more than 40 mg of zinc in a day, and infants under 6 months old should not take more than 4 mg in a day.
Taking zinc can decrease the effectiveness of certain drugs and cause side effects. These drugs include:
Harvard T. H. Chan. Zinc. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/zinc/
National Institutes of Health. Zinc. https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/therapies/supplements/zinc/
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