Minerals

What are the Health Benefits of Zinc? – The Immune Responder

Hello and welcome to the start of the, in depth, series about the essential micro or trace elements as minerals. As it is sure for most of the micro elements, which we will discover here, that they are essential for us, there will be some micro elements for which this is not clearly determined. We will have a look on them at the end of this series. But for now, let´s dive into the essential and well know micro elements.

In this series I´m going to explain:

  • a special characteristic of the micro element
  • what the specific micro element is
  • what the demand is
  • where you can get it (Top 5 foods)
  • what the functions and benefits are
  • what deficiency symptoms exist 
  • what overdose symptoms exist
  • what else you may have to consider 

oyster

Today we are going to start the new series of the essential micro elements with the micro element and multi-talent zinc. And with it, we will investigate the question “What are the Health Benefits of Zinc? – The Immune Responder”. We will also find out what zinc is, how much you need of it, from where you can get it and what else might be interesting about this micro element.


Why is Zinc the Immune Responder?

responder

Zinc is quite an astonishing multi-talent in our body and metabolism. You may have heard, that it is recommended to have a high intake of zinc when you want to have a better utilization of vitamin C. So when your immune system asks for help, zinc has the answer.

For vitamin C it is quite well known, that it supports our immune system. And zinc is the perfect partner in this case. Zinc has an antiviral effect and so it is an additional factor in the assistance for our immune cells.
There are experiences, which have shown, that zinc has the ability to reduce the seriousness and the length of common colds.

Moreover, zinc helps to prevent the immune system from attacking potential safe endogenous and exogenous substances. These attacks are typical in allergic reactions to substances, which are safe, but our immune system thinks that these substances are dangerous for us and wants to make them harmless.

So now we know that zinc can be a helpful player in supporting our immune system.

 

What is Zinc?

Zinc is an essential micro or trace element, which we have to get through our nutrition.

It is a transition metal and it resembles the alkaline earth metals. On the earth, it is often found bound to compounds like zinc sulfide ore.

Pharmaceuticals use zinc for example in compounds like zinc oxide, zinc acetate, zinc sulfate and zinc chloride.

 

What is the demand of Zinc?

Depending on the age, health and lifestyle the daily demand for an average and healthy adult for zinc is about

11 – 15 milligrams (mg) per day.

 

Where can you get Zinc from (Top foods)?

pulses

Here are the Top foods, which are rich in Zinc:

1. Oyster (up to 160 mg/100g),

2. Soybeans (up to 6 mg/100g)para nuts

3. Oat and cheese (up to 5 mg/100g)

4. Nuts and pulses like lentils (up to 4 mg/100ml)

5. Millet (up to 3 mg/100ml)

Meat and fish are other good sources for zinc.

 

What are the functions and benefits of Zinc?

As zinc is a true all-rounder, we can really find many very important and interesting functions and benefits of it.

Immune System

One benefit, which we already discussed above, is the support of it in our immune system. It works antiviral and helps our immune cells, like the white blood cells, to do their work even better. Moreover, it works as an antioxidant and catches free radicals and it has anti-inflammatory properties, whereby it can help to ease inflammations in the digestive tract.
Another interesting function in this context is the ability of zinc to help to improve wound healing and to reduce skin eczemas. That is, why it is often used in medicinal creams.

Metabolism

Zinc also plays a big and important role in our metabolism. It is a component of more than 50 enzymes and participates in the reaction of more than 300 enzymes in the cell metabolism. So it is essential in the carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism.
It works within the nerve and hormone metabolism as a component of neurotransmitters and hormones like testosterone and insulin.

Cell Metabolism and Genetics

Furthermore, zinc fulfills an indispensable function in the formation of body cells, like skin cells and additionally, it is there to build up parts of the DNA and enzymes for the transcription of it, like RNA-polymerase.

Fertility

Last but not least, it is essential in the formation of sperm cells, so it is useful for the male fertility. But it is also useful for female fertility, as zinc promotes the growth of eggs.

 

What deficiency symptoms of Zinc exist?

It is estimated that about 2 bio. people have some sort of zinc deficiency. Risk factors can be pregnancy and special diets or one-sided diets. An increased demand for zinc can also be given after operations, having traumas or having burn injuries.

Symptoms caused by a lack of zinc can be as followed:

  • dry/weak skin, hair and nails
  • anemia
  • a weak immune system
  • growth disorders for children
  • night blindness
  • impotence
  • infertility

 

What overdose symptoms of Zinc exist?

An overdose of zinc is very rare, as a very high amount of it necessary. 2 g of zinc are toxic to us, but not naturally achievable, only with supplementation. There is a special condition of a zinc overdose, called zinc fever, which can occur inhaling zinc vapor and leaving the person with flu like symptoms for 1 or 2 days.  Other symptoms starting with more than 200 mg of zinc can be:

  • gastrointestinal problems

 

What else may you have to consider about Zinc? 

Value in our body

The amount of zinc in our body is about 2-3 grams.

Antagonists and Advice

Natural antagonists of zinc are copper and iron, which reduce the absorption of zinc when present in an increased amount in our body. But it is also the other way around as zinc has the ability to inhibit copper and iron.

Another group of antagonists is food containing phytic acid, like pulses, grains and oilseeds. Soak pulses in water to reduce the phytic acid.

Characteristics and Advantages

In our blood, zinc is bound to albumin, which is a carrier protein.
fork

Zinc is very helpful in the field of skin diseases like eczemas, similar to sulfur. It also has the ability to increase brain function and power.

Discovery and Use

Zinc is long known. There are estimations, that zinc was well known and used in the 17th century in India.

Etymology

The word “zinc” comes from the German word “Zinke”, “Zacken”, which for example describes the pointed part of a fork because it tends to solidify in spikes.

 

Summary:

Now we know that zinc is quite beneficial for our body. Besides its several functions in our immune system, its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it is also indispensable in our metabolism. Let it be the carbohydrate, the fat or the protein metabolism. It is a component of enzymes and necessary in many enzymatic reactions. Zinc is needed in our nerve and hormone system and the division and formation of new cells, for example, skin cells. Oysters, nuts and pulses are excellent sources of zinc in food.


Now to you. What do you think? What was interesting here or do you want to know something else? Let us know in the comments.