Zinc: Vital to Brain, Skin, Weight Loss, Mood….Pretty Much Everything!
Did you think zinc was just one of those trace mineral supplements you don’t really have to worry about? One of those fad vitamins that sell cough drops in winter? Studies show that zinc is actually one of the most vital elements in almost every aspect of your body’s health. Brain, skin, bones, reproductive organs and muscles depend on zinc for growth and function. Mood and weight loss are affected by zinc deficiency. And of course you have heard that zinc reduces symptoms and duration of colds, but there’s more to it than that.
Starting from the head, zinc is a commonly prescribed remedy for alopecia, which is the dramatic hair loss that causes baldness in children as well as adults. It’s actually most effective in children, and while it may not prevent male pattern baldness, it does control protein synthesis, so it can’t hurt.
In the brain, zinc is important for proper function, especially in thought and memory areas. It is important to take B6 with the zinc, as together they help neurotransmitters to work properly. Since neurotransmitters control mood as well as thought, one symptom of zinc and vitamin B deficiency can be depression. Zinc is also helpful after head injuries, as it is a necessary element for growth and repair.
Zinc is well known as a cough drop ingredient. It makes you less miserable when you have a cold, because not only does it calm down sneeze and snuffle producing cytokines like an antihistamine, but it also stimulates white blood cells to combat fungal and bacterial attacks. And last but not least, zinc is an important component of your taste buds and olfactory sensors; deficiency causes things to taste and smell less or just differently, whether you have a cold or not.
Moving down, zinc is important to good skin, because not only does it calm down acne by regulating testosterone, but it also supports collagen production. Eczema is a symptom of zinc deficiency, and psoriasis is often treated with zinc, so it’s obvious that zinc is a vital safeguard for your skin. Zinc is also important for healing, including acne scars, and zinc’s white blood cell stimulation prevents canker sores and other infection-related blemishes.
Because zinc is a component of many enzymes that regulate cell growth, repair and reproduce DNA, and support protein synthesis, it is a vital part of building and repairing the body. This means that you need zinc to build muscle. This also means that it is vital to reproductive health, as so much growth and change occur during pregnancy. Enzymes created with zinc support the changes necessary for birth and lactation as well as fetal development. But fathers need to take it too, as it supports prostate health and increases the sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg. Zinc also has a protective effect against prostate cancer, as zinc deficiency causes enlargement, which makes the prostate more susceptible to cancer.
One lesser known benefit of zinc is appetite suppression, as it affects the hormone ghrelin that controls whether you feel like eating. Zinc as part of a healthy weight loss regimen makes it easier to lose fat. But some benefits of zinc are not completely understood. Strangely enough, zinc sulfate has also shown some benefit to sickle cell disease sufferers, allowing increased growth and more rapid ulcer healing.
Now that you know how vitally important it is to get plenty of zinc, where can you get some? The richest food-based source of zinc is meat, including seafood, especially oysters. Zinc is present in many vegetables, beans, and grains, especially pumpkin seeds, but vegetable sources of zinc contain phytates, which inhibit absorption by the body. If you are a vegetarian or vegan getting your daily requirement of zinc from your diet, be sure to consume twice the daily value of zinc in order to compensate for this loss, or take supplements, which are widely available. Follow guidelines in dosage, as overexposure to zinc can cause side effects like nausea, headaches, and loss of appetite.
Although the daily requirement for zinc is lower than that for iron, zinc is necessary for more reasons. Iron is a vital ingredient of hemoglobin in the blood, but zinc’s many important roles in the body make it just as vital to your health. Your brain, your skin, your muscles, your immune system, your reproductive health, even your mood all need zinc to be healthy. Even if your diet is healthy, food is often produced on depleted soils, so you may benefit from a zinc supplement.