The importance of Zinc

I thought I'd continue on from last week's article of the importance of Vitamin D, and discuss another vitamin and mineral that is important to our overall well-being.

Zinc is a nutrient people need to stay healthy, it can be found in the cells throughout our body. In fact the body needs Zinc to make protein, DNA and genetic material in the cells. It is needed by the immune system to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.

It is and important nutrient during pregnancy, infancy and childhood for the body to grow and develop properly.

Zinc is an important player when it comes to healing of wounds, and for the senses especially taste and smell.

The body doesn't actually produce Zinc which is why it is  so important to make sure that you are obtaining it through your diet or through a supplement. 

Research has shown Zinc is most beneficial, when taken within 24 hours of cold and flu symptoms, and helps to shorten the length of the viruses. It may reduce your risk to pneumonia and infection.

People with skin ulcers, or other wounds, benefit from taking a zinc supplement, to help the cells in their healing process.

Oral Zinc supplements have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of diarrhea, especially if they a Zinc deficient.

Research suggests that zinc may slow down the progression of eye disease, however it still is in the early stages of studies.

Studies suggest that zinc may also reduce the inflammation that occurs during Acne, and inhibiting the growth of P.acnes, bacterial and suppressing oily gland activity.

Zinc decreases oxidative stress which reduces levels of certain inflammatory proteins in the body, which if left in their inflamed state could lead to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and mental decline.

Zinc is the second most abundant mineral after iron in the body. It is necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes that aid metabolism, digestion, nerve function, and many other processes. It is also critical for the development and function of immune cells, and fundamental to skin health, DNA synthesis and protein production.

The amount of daily zinc needed does depend on the life stage you are in, and it is best to talk to your health care practitioner to get the correct dosage for you, and to be tested to see if you are zinc deficient.

The foods with the highest levels of zinc include:

Shellfish - oysters, crab, mussels, lobster, and clams.

Meat - Beef, pork and lamb.

Poultry - Turkey and Chicken.

Fish - Flounder, sardines, salmon and sole.

Legumes - Chickpeas, lentils, black and kidney beans.

Nuts and seeds - Pumpkin and hemp seeds, cashews.

Dairy products - Milk, yogurt and cheese


Whole grains - Oats, quinoa, brown rice

Certain Vegetables - Mushrooms, kale, peas, asparagus, and beet greens.