Nutrient Spotlight: How The Body Uses Zinc

Oct 07, 2021

Zinc is a multitasking mineral that has many functions in the body. Though zinc was initially discovered as a growth factor, it is now understood to play a role in immune function, wound healing, protein synthesis, cell division and DNA synthesis.

Do you want to learn more about what zinc does, its benefits, and the best sources of zinc, as well as how much zinc you need each day? Read on! 

What does zinc do? 

  • As a transcription factor and enzyme activator, zinc is involved in many biological processes such as metabolism, digestion, nerve function, and many others. 
  • Immune cells require it for proper development and function. 
  • Additionally, this mineral contributes to healthy skin, protein production and DNA synthesis.  
  • Zinc also plays a crucial role in cellular growth and division, contributing to body growth and development.
  • Zinc affects your sense taste and smell due to an enzyme that is dependent on it.

Zinc has many health benefits 

Reduces inflammation

Zinc decreases oxidative stress that leads to chronic inflammation, contributing to chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and mental decline.  

Boost your immune system

A deficiency can weaken the immune response because it is necessary for immune cell function and cell signaling. Studies have shown that 80-92 mp per day can help you recover up to 33% faster from a cold. Zinc supplements also help reduce the risk of infection and promote an immune response in older people. 

Reduce your risk of age-related diseases

Zinc reduces your risk of diseases such as pneumonia, infection, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and improved influenza vaccination response and boosted mental performance. 

Improve wound healing

Hospitals commonly use zinc to treat burns, certain ulcers and other skin injuries because it plays critical roles in collagen synthesis, immune function and inflammatory response. It is necessary for proper healing. 

Improve acne symptoms 

People with acne tend to have a lower level of zinc. For this reason, both topical and oral zinc treatments have been proven to treat acne effectively. Zinc can reduce inflammation, inhibit the growth of P. acnes bacteria and suppress oily gland activity. 

How much zinc do I need per day?

If the benefits of zinc convinced you of its importance, you might be wondering exactly how much you should consume per day. 

The recommended daily intake (RDI) for an adult male is 11 mg. For an adult female, it is 8 mg. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume more due to zinc’s essential roles in growth, development, and immune response. 

The max tolerable level for zinc is 40 mg per day unless you have a zinc deficiency. Taking over 50 milligrams per day can cause abdominal pain, gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea, nausea, and reduced HDL levels.

Foods high in zinc

The body doesn’t produce zinc, so you need to consume it through food or by taking a supplement. Nevertheless, you should easily meet the RDI for zinc through diet alone unless a medical condition prevents absorption. Zinc-rich foods include: 

  • Oysters (contain the highest amounts of zinc)
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Shellfish
  • Nuts
  • Beans

Are you getting enough zinc? 

Identifying the warning signs of a zinc deficiency can be tricky but scheduling a wellness exam to discuss possible signs with Optimum Direct Care in Orlando, FL is simple. We also offer nutritional services to assist you in designing a diet that keeps you healthy. 

“Dr. Muzzi goes above and beyond for her patients. She really takes the time to listen and understand my questions, thoughts, and concerns. She helps educate me while also respecting my choices and preferences, which is very important to me as a mom. I know my family is receiving the best possible care under Dr Muzzi. I’ve never experienced another doctor so passionate about truly helping her patients. She goes above and beyond for us, and we are truly grateful to have her in our lives! Her nurse Erin is awesome and takes great care of us as well!”