Zinc: This Immune Standby May Also Improve Mood and Blood Glucose

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Zinc supplements have emerged as a key player in promoting overall health, offering benefits that extend far beyond the well-known immune support. Zinc helps in wound healing, supporting growth and development, and maintaining a healthy metabolism. This article discusses the roles of zinc in the body, its benefits, and the importance of adequate zinc intake, especially for those at risk for dietary deficiencies. Read on for factual insights into how zinc supplementation can effectively contribute to overall health based on scientific research and nutritional guidelines.

What is Zinc?

Zinc is a vital trace element that can be found in red meat, poultry, and fish. Its presence in small amounts is necessary for the human body’s health, growth, and sense of taste. It is not stored by the body in excess, hence it is required in the diet. Zinc plays a crucial role in various bodily functions such as immune function, thyroid function, blood clotting, wound healing, and vision maintenance. It may also possess antiviral properties.

What Are the Benefits of Zinc?

  • Immune Function: One of the health benefits of zinc is that it supports the immune system. Zinc helps to stimulate the production of immune cells and antibodies, which can help to defend against infections and illnesses. Reviews have found that zinc may prevent and shorten the duration of respiratory infections. [PMID: 34728441]
  • Wound Healing: Zinc accelerates wound healing by aiding collagen synthesis and immune response. It helps repair skin, reduces inflammation, and is crucial for quick healing.
  • Growth and Development: Another benefit of zinc is that it supports healthy growth and development. Zinc is important for cell division and growth, which is particularly important during pregnancy and childhood. Zinc also helps to support healthy skin, hair, and nails.
  • Healthy Metabolism: Zinc is also important for maintaining a healthy metabolism. It helps to regulate the production of hormones, enzymes, and proteins, which are all necessary for proper metabolic function.
  • Digestion: zinc is important for the proper functioning of the digestive system and for maintaining a healthy appetite.
  • Glucose Metabolism: A review of studies of zinc supplementation in prediabetes showed that zinc had beneficial effects on blood sugar and lipid measurements in people with prediabetes. Researchers concluded that it “may have the potential to reduce the prevalence of prediabetes.” [PMID: 33759442]
  • Brain Health: Zinc has been found to support cognitive function and mood. It is involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters, which are important for mood and brain function. Zinc may also help to improve memory and cognitive performance.
    • Anxiety: Zinc is a potential nutrient in anxiety reduction by acting on γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamatergic, serotonergic, neurogenesis, and immune systems.  [PMID: 37364014]
    • Depression: A recent review of studies on zinc concluded that there was support for the use of zinc to help with depression and to reduce the risk of its development. [PMID: 32829928]
  • Antioxidant properties: Zinc helps to neutralize free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can damage cells and contribute to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

It is important to note that while zinc has many health benefits, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Excessive zinc intake can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate zinc intake for your individual needs.

Forms of Zinc: The Benefits and Drawbacks of Each

Zinc supplements come in various forms, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Here is an overview of the most common types of zinc supplements:

  • Zinc Gluconate: Benefits: This form is widely available, affordable, and well-tolerated by most individuals. Drawbacks: Its absorption rate is lower compared to other forms of zinc, and it may be less effective for certain health purposes.
  • Zinc Picolinate: Benefits: Zinc picolinate is known for its high bioavailability, meaning it is absorbed more efficiently by the body. Drawbacks: It may be more expensive than other forms of zinc, and some individuals may experience gastrointestinal side effects.
  • Zinc Citrate: Benefits: Zinc citrate has a moderate absorption rate, and its taste is more palatable than some other forms of zinc, making it suitable for oral consumption. Drawbacks: It may be less effective than other forms of zinc due to its moderate absorption rate.
  • Zinc Sulfate: Benefits: This form is inexpensive and widely available. Drawbacks: Zinc sulfate is known for its bitter taste and may cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea and stomach pain, in some individuals.
  • Zinc Acetate: Benefits: Zinc acetate is typically used in lozenges for colds due to its antiviral properties and is effective at reducing the duration of cold symptoms. Drawbacks: It is not commonly used as a daily supplement and may have a slightly lower absorption rate than other forms of zinc.
  • Zinc Orotate: Benefits: Zinc orotate is believed to have a high bioavailability and is well-tolerated by most individuals. Drawbacks: It may be more expensive and harder to find compared to other forms of zinc.

Daily Needs and Food Sources Of Zinc

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc is 11 mg per day for adult men and 8 mg per day for adult women, with a Daily Value (DV) set at 11 mg. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for zinc. For adults, the UL is set at 40 mg per day. This is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects in the general population. It’s important to stay within this limit, as excessive zinc intake can lead to adverse health effects.

Food SourceAmount of Zinc (approximate)
Oysters (6 medium)32 mg
Beef (100g)5-7 mg
Crab (85g or 3 oz)6.5 mg
Pork (100g)2.5-4.5 mg
Chicken (100g)1-2.5 mg
Baked beans (1/2 cup or 130g)2.9 mg
Chickpeas (1/2 cup or 100g)1.3 mg
Cashews (28g or 1 oz)1.6 mg
Almonds (28g or 1 oz)1.0 mg
Milk (1 cup or 240ml)1.0 mg
Cheddar cheese (28g or 1 oz)1.0 mg
Greek yogurt (170g or 6 oz)1.1 mg
Spinach (1/2 cup or 90g, cooked)0.8 mg
Mushrooms (1/2 cup or 75g, cooked)0.6-1.1 mg
Dark chocolate (28g or 1 oz, 70-85%)1.9 mg
This table highlights some common food sources of zinc, but there are many other foods that contain zinc as well. It’s important to consume a balanced diet to ensure an adequate intake of zinc and other essential nutrients.

Who Is At Risk For Zinc Deficiency?

Certain populations may benefit from zinc supplementation due to specific dietary needs or health conditions:

  • Vegetarians and Vegans: Often have lower zinc levels as zinc is less bioavailable from plant sources, and phytates in legumes and whole grains can inhibit zinc absorption.
  • Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: Need increased zinc for fetal development and to maintain their own and their infant’s health during breastfeeding.
  • Infants and Young Children: Require more zinc due to rapid growth; breastfed infants might be at risk for deficiency if the mother’s milk is low in zinc.
  • People with Gastrointestinal Disorders:
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can lead to poor zinc absorption and increased zinc loss.
    • People with Malabsorption Syndromes: Conditions such as celiac or short bowel syndrome can impair zinc absorption.
    • People Who Have Had Bariatric Surgery: Procedures like gastric bypass can significantly reduce the body’s ability to absorb zinc, necessitating supplementation.
  • Elderly People: Often experience reduced dietary zinc intake and absorption and are more prone to chronic diseases that affect zinc status.
  • Individuals with Sickle Cell Disease: Typically have lower zinc levels due to increased nutritional needs and zinc loss.
  • People with Alcohol Dependence: Alcohol can interfere with zinc absorption and increase zinc excretion.
  • People taking Certain Medications: Diuretics and some antibiotics can interfere with zinc absorption or increase its excretion.

In these cases, zinc supplementation may be beneficial.

Are Zinc Supplements Safe?

Zinc is generally safe to take orally in amounts no greater than 40 mg per day. Larger doses may be safe when used for a short period of time, but taking more than 40 mg daily may decrease the body’s ability to absorb copper, leading to potential health problems. Extremely high doses of zinc can also cause adverse effects such as stomach pain, vomiting, and even death, with fatal doses ranging from 10-30 grams.

Zinc Interactions With Medications

  • Amiloride (Midamor): Interaction Rating = Minor. Be watchful with this combination. Amiloride can increase zinc levels in the body, but it’s usually not a big concern.
  • Antibiotics (Quinolone antibiotics): Interaction Rating = Moderate. Be cautious with this combination. Zinc may decrease antibiotic absorption from the gut, so take antibiotics 2 hours before or 4-6 hours after zinc supplements.
  • Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics): Interaction Rating = Moderate. Be cautious with this combination. Zinc can decrease tetracycline absorption, so take tetracyclines 2 hours before or 4-6 hours after zinc supplements.
  • Atazanavir (Reyataz): Interaction Rating = Minor. Be watchful with this combination. Zinc decreases atazanavir absorption, but it still works for treating HIV.
  • Cephalexin (Keflex): Interaction Rating = Moderate. Be cautious with this combination. Zinc can reduce cephalexin absorption, so take zinc 3 hours after taking cephalexin.
  • Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ): Interaction Rating = Moderate. Be cautious with this combination. Taking zinc along with cisplatin might inactivate cisplatin therapy, but it’s not clear if this is a big concern.
  • Medications for HIV/AIDS (Integrase inhibitors): Interaction Rating = Moderate. Be cautious with this combination. Taking zinc along with integrase inhibitors might decrease blood levels of integrase inhibitors, so talk to your healthcare provider if you are using integrase inhibitors and want to start taking zinc.
  • Penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen): Interaction Rating = Moderate. Be cautious with this combination. Zinc might decrease penicillamine absorption, so take zinc and penicillamine at least 2 hours apart.
  • Ritonavir (Norvir): Interaction Rating = Moderate. Be cautious with this combination. Zinc can reduce ritonavir absorption, but it’s not clear if this is a big concern. Talk with your health provider.

Zinc Interactions with Supplements

  • Beta-carotene: Zinc in high doses can reduce beta-carotene blood levels.
  • Bromelain: Zinc might decrease the effects of bromelain, but, this is unlikely to be a problem.
  • Calcium: Calcium supplements can lower the amount of zinc absorbed from food. Typically, this is not a major concern, but taking calcium supplements at bedtime instead of with meals can prevent this interaction.
  • Chromium: Taking zinc and chromium together can reduce the absorption of both minerals. However, this is probably not a major issue with typical doses of both.
  • Coffee: Consuming coffee with zinc supplements can decrease the amount of zinc absorbed by the body.
  • Copper: High amounts of zinc can lower copper absorption, potentially leading to copper deficiency and anemia. Copper deficiency symptoms have been observed in individuals taking zinc supplements at doses of 150 mg or more daily for 2 years.
  • Folic Acid: Folic acid supplements can affect the absorption of zinc from food, but usual doses are unlikely to impact zinc levels in individuals with sufficient dietary zinc intake.
  • IP-6 (Phytic acid): IP-6 supplements containing phytic acid, which can bind to zinc and reduce absorption, should be avoided in individuals at risk for zinc deficiency.
  • Iron: Iron and zinc can interfere with each other’s absorption, so taking these supplements with food can help prevent this effect.
  • Magnesium: High doses of zinc supplements (142 mg/day) or high zinc intake from food (53 mg/day) may lower magnesium levels, but the significance of this effect is unclear.
  • Manganese: Zinc supplements may increase manganese absorption from supplements, according to research.
  • Riboflavin: (Vitamin B2) Research suggests riboflavin may enhance zinc absorption, although its importance is uncertain.
  • Vitamin A: Zinc supplements can increase blood levels of vitamin A and may intensify the effects and side effects of vitamin A.
  • Vitamin D: Although vitamin D plays a role in zinc absorption, it is not clear whether vitamin D improves zinc absorption.

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Choose A Quality Multivitamin With Zinc

Taking your zinc supplement through a multivitamin offers the advantage of balanced nutrition, which is crucial for avoiding nutrient imbalances. Multivitamins are designed to deliver essential nutrients in well-measured proportions, mirroring a healthy diet. This approach is particularly important for minerals like zinc, which, in excessive amounts, can interfere with the absorption of other minerals such as copper, iron, and calcium. By choosing a multivitamin, you ensure an appropriate intake of zinc while receiving other essential nutrients, maintaining a healthy mineral balance. This strategy is a convenient way to meet daily nutritional needs without the risk of over-supplementing a single nutrient like zinc.

O.N.E. Multivitamin — Pure Encapsulations

Serving Size: 1 capsule / Dose: 1 per day

Amount Per Serving
Vitamin A … 1,125mcg (as vitamin A acetate and 73% beta carotene)
Vitamin C … 180mg (as ascorbic acid)
Vitamin D … 50mcg (as cholecalciferol) (D3) (2,000 IU)
Vitamin E … 20mg (as d-alpha tocopherol succinate)
Thiamin … 3mg (as thiamin HCl) (B1)
Riboflavin … 3mg (as vitamin B2 and 43% riboflavin 5′ phosphate (activated B2))
Niacin … 20mg (as niacinamide)
Vitamin B6 … 4mg (as pyridoxine HCl and 38% pyridoxal 5′ phosphate (activated B6))
Folate … 667mcg DFE (as Metafolin®, L-5-MTHF) (L-5-MTHF 400 mcg)
Vitamin B12 … 500mcg (as methylcobalamin)
Biotin … 300mcg
Pantothenic acid … 10mg (as calcium pantothenate) (B5)
Iodine … 150mcg (as potassium iodide)
Zinc … 25mg (as zinc citrate)
Selenium … 70mcg (as selenomethionine)
Manganese … 2mg (as manganese citrate)
Chromium … 200mcg (as chromium polynicotinate)
Molybdenum … 75mcg (as TRAACS™ molybdenum glycinate chelate)
Boron … 1mg (as boron glycinate)
Choline … 10mg (as choline bitartrate)
Inositol … 25mg
Coenzyme Q10 sustained-release … 50mg (as CoQ10 and as 18% from MicroActive® CoQ10-cyclodextrin complex)
Alpha lipoic acid … 50mg
FloraGLO® lutein … 3mg
Zeaxanthin … 500mcg
Lycopene … 500mcg

Zinc Lozenges 15 mg

Zinc Lozenge by Seeking Health provides 15 mg of TRAACS® zinc bisglycinate chelate in an easy-to-use lozenge format. Zinc may help support normal cell growth, a healthy immune system, and healthy wound repair processes. It is an essential mineral that activates more than 70 enzymes within the human body, including those that assist with protein synthesis.*

Zinc Lozenge uses TRAACS® Zinc Bisglycinate Chelate, a gentle, well-tolerated form of zinc. Each tablet can be easily broken into smaller pieces for greater dosage control. These tablets use only xylitol and natural flavors – no artificial sweeteners or colors.*

Suggested Use:

Take 1 lozenge daily with food, or use as directed by your healthcare professional. For best results, bite the lozenge once, allow it to melt in your mouth, and then swallow.

Amount Per 1 Lozenge Serving

Zinc … 15mg (as Zinc Bisglycinate Chelate§)

Zinc 15 mg Tablets

Zinc provides a highly bioavailable source of this great mineral and antioxidant in an aspartic acid chelated form for maximum absorption and utilization, and to specifically assist the endocrine and immune systems. Zinc is an essential nutrient, antioxidant and a component of superoxide dismutase. Zinc plays a major role in the synthesis and metabolism of protein, promotes glandular and reproductive health, and assists with proper immune system function. Product ideal for vegans.

Adults (19 years and older): Take one tablet two times daily with meals, a few hours before or after taking other medications, or as recommended by your healthcare practitioner.
Adolescents (9-18 years): Take one tablet daily with a meal, a few hours before or after taking other medications, or as recommended by your healthcare practitioner.

Amount Per 1 Tablet Serving
Zinc … 15mg (zinc aspartate)

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

When zinc in the diet is low, Zinc supplements might stand as a vital component in supporting overall health, They offer a range of benefits from boosting immune function to aiding in wound healing and improving skin health. Zinc’s role in cellular metabolism, protein synthesis, and enzyme function shows its importance in our daily diet.

While zinc is readily available in various foods, supplements can be particularly beneficial for certain groups at risk of deficiency, including vegetarians, pregnant women, and those with certain health conditions. However, it’s crucial to approach zinc supplementation with care, considering the delicate balance of minerals in the body.

This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.

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