What Is Zinc?
Zinc, which is actually a type of metal, is an essential trace element. Zinc is mostly marketed as one the many effective natural cold remedies, however it is also used by the body for a for a great number of other purposes. Read on to find out!
Zinc is needed in small amounts every day in order to maintain health and perform important functions each day. Zinc benefits the body in many ways: helps with hormone production, growth and repair, improves immunity and facilitates digestion. Zinc benefits also include its ability to act as an anti-inflammatory agent, therefore zinc may have significant therapeutic benefits for several common, chronic diseases like fighting cancer or reversing heart disease. Zinc is also great for skin health if the person is deficient and can be useful for acne in particular due to its natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and immune support functions.
Zinc is actually present in all bodily tissue and needed for healthy cell division. It acts as an antioxidant within the body, fighting free-radical damage and slow the ageing process. Zinc also has a big impact on hormonal balance, so for this reason, even a small zinc deficiency may influence risk for infertility or diabetes. Zinc is also a chelator for copper in the body, increased copper levels within the body may go hand in hand with oestrogen dominance. Zinc depletion may therefore occur in people with higher oestrogen levels.
Without enough zinc present in your diet, it’s possible to experience negative reactions like frequently getting colds and flu, feeling like you’re always tired and run down, poor concentration, poor skin health and slower wound healing.
Zinc deficiency occurs when someone doesn’t eat enough foods that contain zinc or has trouble absorbing and using zinc from foods due to digestive disorders or very poor gut health. The highest levels of zinc are found in foods high in protein — especially animal proteins, including high-quality meats, certain kinds of seafood.
Zinc is found in grains and legumes, plus it’s usually added to processed, packaged grain products like cereals. However, this type of zinc isn’t as absorbable or useful by the body since it’s bound to “anti-nutrients” like phytates that may actually prevent zinc absorption. Unfortunately for this reason, even zinc found in whole foods like legumes and whole grains aren’t as good of a source of animal foods due to naturally occurring anti-nutrients that block zinc absorption.
Who is most at risk for zinc deficiency? Anyone following a plant-based diet that doesn’t include meat products (vegan or vegetarian) are usually at the greatest risk since their diets eliminate the highest food sources. People who suffer from severe stomach-acid issues, chronic digestive problems, high oestrogen levels or alcoholism are also more likely to have a zinc deficiency.
Finally, it’s believed that women taking the birth control pill, or who are on hormone replacement therapy drugs, may also be at a higher risk since this can interfere with the role of zinc as it relates to one’s hormones and oestrogen dominance.
The most common signs and symptoms associated with zinc deficiency include:
- Changes in appetite, including food cravings for salty or sweet foods
- Changes in ability to taste and smell
- Weight gain or loss
- Hair loss
- Digestive problems, including diarrhea
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Hormonal problems, including worsened PMS or menopause symptoms
- Low immunity
- Poor concentration and memory
- Slowed ability to heal wounds, skin infections or irritation
- Nerve dysfunction
- Increases Immunity and Fights Colds
- Acts as a Powerful Antioxidant that May Help Fight Cancer
- Balances Hormones
- Fights Diabetes
- Maintains Heart Health by Supporting Blood Vessels
- Prevents Diarrhea
- Increases Fertility
- Aids in Nutrient Absorption and Digestion
- Supports Liver Health
- Helps with Muscle Growth and Repair