Zinc is an essential trace element and actually a type of metal. It is needed in small amounts every day in order to perform important functions and to maintain health. Zinc benefits the body in many ways: improves immunity, facilitates digestion and helps with hormone production, repairment, and growth. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and it is beneficial in the treatment of chronic diseases, fighting cancer and reversing heart disease. Even a small zinc deficiency can result in increased risk of diabetes or infertility. The most common symptoms and signs associated with zinc deficiency are:
- Low immunity
- Weight gain or loss
- Changes in appetite, such as food cravings for sweet or salty foods
- Digestive problems, including diarrhea
- Changes in ability to smell and taste
- Hair loss
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Hormonal problems, PMS or menopause symptoms
- Poor concentration and memory
- Nerve dysfunction
- Slowed ability to heal irritation, skin infections or wounds
Zinc Benefits for Health
Zinc is needed for healthy cell division and is actually present within all bodily tissue. It acts as an antioxidant, slows the aging process, and fights free-radical damage.
1. Fights Colds and Boosts Immunity
Taking zinc supplements for at least five months reduces the risk of getting the common cold. If you already feel sick zinc can speed up the healing process.
One research shows that zinc interferes with the molecular process that causes bacteria and mucus to build up within the nasal passages. (1)
2. Fights Diabetes
It balances most hormones, including insulin. Zinc benefits to blood sugar levels because it attaches to insulin. This way the insulin is appropriately stored in the pancreas and released when glucose enters the bloodstream.
3. Increases Fertility
Zinc plays an important role in fertility. Its deficiency in young men is related with a significant lowering in serum testosterone concentrations. This can lower libido and negatively impact fertility. In women, zinc is especially important during the growth process of the female’s eggs. If it is deficient the ovulation will suffer because the eggs cannot properly mature.
Zinc is needed for the production of progesterone and estrogen in women, which both support reproductive health. If they are not in balance it can cause problems with mood swings, menstruation, infertility, early menopause, and possibly even increase the risk of certain cancers.
4. Fights Cancer
Zinc is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It helps fight oxidative stress and decreases the risk for disease development. Its ability to support healthy cell division is especially beneficial in elderly patients because it stunts the tumor growth and prevents cancerous cell mutation.
One research revealed that adults with lower zinc levels have higher plasma oxidative stress markers, higher levels of inflammatory cytokines, and endothelial cell adhesion molecules. After zinc supplementation, the rate of infections significantly decreases. (2)
5.Supports Liver Health
Zinc can reduce the rate of infection and it is correlated with lower levels of liver damage. It can also help with a liver cleanse to reduce inflammation in the liver, helps with nutrient absorption and reduces free radical damage.
6.Supports Heart Health and Blood Vessels
Zinc benefits to heart health by supporting healthy circulation. It works as a natural remedy for high cholesterol levels from damaged or clogged arteries and high blood pressure.
Top Food Sources of Zinc
The highest amounts of naturally occurring zinc contain high-protein foods. Here are the top food sources of zinc.
mg of zinc per serving
|percent of daily value in serving|
|Oysters, cooked, breaded and fried||3 ounces||74 mg||493%|
|Beef chuck roast, braised||3 ounces||7 mg||47%|
|Crab, Alaska king, cooked||3 ounces||6.5 mg||43%|
|Lamb lean shoulder, braised||3 ounces||6.2 mg||41%|
|Duck, domesticated, meat only, cooked, roasted||½ duck||5.75 mg||38%|
|Beef patty, broiled||3 ounces||5.3 mg||35%|
|Lobster, cooked||3 ounces||3.4 mg||23%|
|Pork chop, loin, cooked||3 ounces||2.9 mg||19%|
|Baked beans, canned, plain or vegetarian||½ cup||2.9 mg||19%|
|Chicken, dark meat, cooked||3 ounces||2.4 mg||16%|
|Pork, lean, cured, ham, roasted||3 ounces||2.2 mg||14%|
|Yogurt||8 ounces||1.7 mg||11%|
|Cashews, dry roasted||1 ounce||1.6 mg||11%|
|Chickpeas, cooked||½ cup||1.3 mg||9%|
|Cheese, Swiss||1 ounce||1.2 mg||8%|
|Atlantic sardines, canned in oil, drained solids with bone||3 ounces||1.1 mg||7%|
|Oatmeal||1 packet||1.1 mg||7%|
|Milk||1 cup||1 mg||7%|
|Almonds||1 ounce||0.9 mg||6%|
|Kidney beans, cooked||½ cup||0.9 mg||6%|
|Chicken breast, roasted, skin removed||½ breast||0.9 mg||6%|
|Cheese, cheddar or mozzarella||1 ounce||0.9 mg||6%|
|Broccoli, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt||1 cup||0.7 mg||5%|
|Peas, green, frozen, cooked||½ cup||0.5 mg||3%|