After Covid-19 exploded worldwide and before countries decided to impose the quarantine, people “suffered” a panic attack by excessively buying everything for a couple of weeks. Pasta, rice, milk, frozen food, toilet paper and immunity supplements literally flew off the shelves. Zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, propolis and echinacea disappeared from every pharmacy or health store. Many news highlighted how beneficial it could be to take some supplements, to strengthen the immune system, especially during the active viral pandemic. However, many people felt totally lost with different forms, brands and an endless variety of them. I focused on some of the most common forms of magnesium two weeks ago. And now, I would like to shed light on another one: zinc.
Zinc is an essential mineral required for many functions in the body: strengthens/boosts the immune system, synthesizes proteins, speeds up the wound healing, regulates sense of taste and smell, reduces inflammation or improves skin diseases, among the other functions in the body.
An essential mineral means that your body can’t manufacture it, so you have to get zinc through your diet. However, as Western diets have changed over the years by abandoning unprocessed food for unhealthy ultra-processed products, there is a high risk of a general lack of zinc in the population. On top of that, over exploitation of the soil or farming doesn’t at all help to rectify this trend.
There are several types of zinc in the market, but I will concentrate on the most popular ones. This article won’t focus on zinc chemical composition or how it works internally in the body. It will explain zinc benefits/uses and its bioavailability.
What about the dose? The recommended daily amount of zinc is 8 milligrams for women and 10 mg for adult men. However, according to The National Institutes of Health, 40mg of zinc a day should be the upper limit dose for adults and 4mg of zinc a day for infants under 6 months of age (1). An overdose of zinc can lead to indigestion, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea or headache. Generally speaking, zinc seems safe. However, if zinc is taken long term and in high doses, it can lead to copper deficiency. Both minerals compete for absorption in the body.
On the other hand, some signs of zinc deficiency are: recurrent colds, lack of appetite, constant diarrhoea, loss or thinning of hair, vision problems, weak bones and joints, several skin conditions and lack of concentration and poor memory.
Finally, if you don’t believe in supplements, oysters, crab, mussels, lobster, beef, pork, sardines, salmon, sole, lentils, black beans, cashews, hemp seeds, oats, brown rice, asparagus, kale, peas or mushrooms are a great source of zinc.