Top 4 Uses of Zinc

Top 4 Uses for Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral, meaning it is found in small concentrations in the body. Even so, it is indispensable to our overall health and well-being.

From wound healing to digestion, this mineral plays a role in many of the body’s essential functions. Zinc deficiency has even been linked to medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis and major depression.

While we can get our daily zinc needs from a balanced diet, there might be times when you want to take a zinc supplement to give your body an extra boost. Here are five of the best and most popular reasons you might want to try taking zinc.

Zinc and the Common Cold

The common cold is, well, common! It is a top reason for lost productivity due to missed work or school days, making its treatment of the utmost importance.

Zinc supplements have long been touted as a panacea for the common cold. There is no evidence that choking down some zinc pills will cure the common cold, but there is strong evidence to suggest that, when taken within 24 hours of the onset of a cold, zinc supplements can reduce the length and severity of the illness.

Our best advice for using zinc to remedy the common cold? Stick to zinc lozenges, pills, or tablets, and avoid nasal sprays. Zinc is generally safe to take for short periods of time, but zinc nasal sprays have been linked to permanent loss of smell in some people.

Zinc and Child Development

Zinc’s effects on the body are powerful for individuals, but also for humankind. On a global scale, it is estimated that zinc supplementation could reduce child mortality by 4 percent.

In most of the developed world, severe zinc deficiency is rare. In third-world countries, however, zinc deficiency causes 14.4 percent of diarrhea-related deaths among children.

Zinc deficiency also inhibits children’s growth – and zinc supplementation has been found to have a statistically significant effect on linear growth and weight gain among children in third-world countries.

Zinc and Wound Healing

Zinc plays an important role in the cellular functions that allow the body to heal itself. The mineral works alongside cells to ignite the inflammatory processes that spur the body’s immune defenses, and performs other essential duties of wound healing. 

Research shows that increasing the bioavailability of zinc in the body may encourage faster wound healing. When higher levels of zinc are available to wound cells, this incredible mineral speeds the enzymes working to heal them. 

Of course, that does not mean that taking unlimited amounts of zinc will make you invincible to injuries. Taking high doses of zinc can be dangerous, leading to diarrhea, headache, nausea, or vomiting. You should still stick to the maximum daily dose of 40 mg per day, recommended by medical professionals.

Zinc and Healthy Vision

Many people experience age-related loss of vision – but there is a chance that taking zinc supplements could help to prevent that. Research suggests that zinc delays vision loss due to aging by preventing cellular damage to the retina.

A common cause of vision loss in the elderly is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In one study conducted in the Netherlands, higher consumption of dietary zinc was linked to a lower risk of developing AMD.

In older adults diagnosed with AMD, there is also evidence that taking zinc supplements could slow the progression of the disease – so if you have AMD, don’t wait to talk to your doctor about adding a zinc supplement to your daily routine!

 

Without zinc, the human body would inevitably not be the same. Zinc protects us from underdevelopment when we are children. As adults, it promotes wound healing, strong vision, and immune health. There’s evidence to suggest that taking zinc supplements could boost these benefits. Still, as always, you should talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements, since they know your health better than anyone.

 

Sources:

Brobst, J. et. al. (2013). The Herb Society of America’s Essential Guide to Elderberry. The Herb Society of America. https://www.herbsociety.org/file_download/inline/a54e481a-e368-4414-af68-2e3d42bc0bec

Hickner, J. (2011). Zinc for the common cold – not if, but when. Journal of Family Practice, 60(11). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273967/

Marriage-Arcari, R. (2016). The Role of Zinc in Wound Healing. Diabetic Foot Canada e-Journal, 14(3). https://www.woundscanada.ca/docman/public/wound-care-canada-magazine/2016-14-no3/126-the-role-of-zinc-in-wound-healing/file

Office of Dietary Supplements (2020, July 15). Zinc Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/

Rabinovich, D, Smadi, Y. (2020, February 18). Zinc. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547698/#article-77.s1

van Leeuwen, R. et. al. (2005). Dietary intake of antioxidants and risk of age-related macular degeneration. Journal of the American Medical Association, 294(24). https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.294.24.3101