Why You Need Zinc: If you’re like most people, you probably think zinc is only important for your immune system. But it is a mineral involved in many different aspects of your health, from your brain to your hormones.
Zinc has many functions in the body, including wound healing, protein synthesis, and enzyme activation. In this blog post, we will discuss five ways that zinc can benefit your health. These include its role in immune function, reproductive health, cognitive function, and diabetes control.
1. Immune Functions
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in many aspects of health, including immune function. It is found in high concentrations in the cells that line the gut, which helps protect against infection.1 When the body detects an infection, zinc levels drop, signaling the immune system to mobilize.2
Zinc also boosts the activity of white blood cells and the production of interferon, a substance that helps protect cells from viral infections and increases the production of antibodies. Zinc can help shorten the duration of colds and other respiratory infections. It may also help reduce the severity of these illnesses.3
Additionally, zinc plays a role in wound healing4 and has been shown to shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms. Given its important role in immune function, it’s not surprising that zinc deficiency is linked to a higher risk of infections. Supplementing with zinc can help to prevent deficiency and support a healthy immune system.
Zinc also protects against free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells, leading to inflammation. This can make you more susceptible to illness and disease. Zinc helps protect cells from damage by neutralizing free radicals.5 It’s also been shown to reduce inflammation, making it an important nutrient for people with conditions like arthritis or asthma.
2. Reproductive Health
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a key role in many biological processes, including cell growth, immune function, and wound healing. It is also necessary for proper reproduction in both men and women. In men, it is essential to produce testosterone and other hormones for sperm development. Studies have shown that zinc deficiency can lead to reduced sperm count, motility, and infertility.6
In women, it is involved in ovulation and the production of eggs. It also helps to maintain the lining of the uterus, which is necessary to implant a fertilized egg. Zinc deficiency has been linked to several reproductive problems in women, including amenorrhea, endometriosis, and miscarriages. Ensuring adequate zinc intake through diet or supplements is important for maintaining reproductive health in both men and women.7
3. Cognitive Function
You may not realize it, but zinc plays an important role in your cognitive function. This essential mineral is involved in many processes in the brain, including cell signaling, neurotransmission, and gene expression.8 Not getting enough of it can lead to cognitive problems like poor memory, impaired learning, and reduced attention span.9
Zinc is involved in several processes in the brain that are essential for cognitive function. One of the most important roles of zinc is in cell signaling. It is a co-factor for enzymes responsible for transmitting signals between cells. This process is important for communication between neurons and other cells in the brain. When there are disruptions in cell signaling, it can lead to problems with cognition.9
Lastly, zinc plays a role in gene expression. This process is important for the creation of new proteins that are necessary for neural growth and development. A deficiency can lead to problems with neurogenesis (the formation of new neurons) and neuronal plasticity (the ability of neurons to change and adapt). This can result in cognitive problems like poor memory and reduced attention span.8
Zinc is an important mineral for our bodies and has many benefits, including boosting immunity, reproductive health, and cognitive function. It’s found in various foods like oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, and chickpeas. Taking a supplement can also help increase your essential nutrient levels.
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- Scarpellini E, Balsiger LM, Maurizi V, Rinninella E, Gasbarrini A, Giostra N, Santori P, Abenavoli L, Rasetti C. Zinc and gut microbiota in health and gastrointestinal disease under the COVID-19 suggestion. Biofactors. 2022 Mar;48(2):294-306. doi: 10.1002/biof.1829. Epub 2022 Feb 26. PMID: 35218585; PMCID: PMC9082519.
- Wessels I, Maywald M, Rink L. Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017 Nov 25;9(12):1286. doi: 10.3390/nu9121286. PMID: 29186856; PMCID: PMC5748737.
- Prasad AS. Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Mol Med. 2008 May-Jun;14(5-6):353-7. doi: 10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad. PMID: 18385818; PMCID: PMC2277319.
- Lin PH, Sermersheim M, Li H, Lee PHU, Steinberg SM, Ma J. Zinc in Wound Healing Modulation. Nutrients. 2017 Dec 24;10(1):16. doi: 10.3390/nu10010016. PMID: 29295546; PMCID: PMC5793244.
- Marreiro DD, Cruz KJ, Morais JB, Beserra JB, Severo JS, de Oliveira AR. Zinc and Oxidative Stress: Current Mechanisms. Antioxidants (Basel). 2017 Mar 29;6(2):24. doi: 10.3390/antiox6020024. PMID: 28353636; PMCID: PMC5488004.
- Allouche-Fitoussi D, Breitbart H. The Role of Zinc in Male Fertility. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Oct 21;21(20):7796. doi: 10.3390/ijms21207796. PMID: 33096823; PMCID: PMC7589359.
- Nasiadek M, Stragierowicz J, Klimczak M, Kilanowicz A. The Role of Zinc in Selected Female Reproductive System Disorders. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 16;12(8):2464. doi: 10.3390/nu12082464. PMID: 32824334; PMCID: PMC7468694.
- Sanford L, Carpenter MC, Palmer AE. Intracellular Zn2+ transients modulate global gene expression in dissociated rat hippocampal neurons. Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 28;9(1):9411. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45844-2. PMID: 31253848; PMCID: PMC6598991.
- Sun R, Wang J, Feng J, Cao B. Zinc in Cognitive Impairment and Aging. Biomolecules. 2022 Jul 18;12(7):1000. doi: 10.3390/biom12071000. PMID: 35883555; PMCID: PMC9312494.