Zinc is an essential dietary mineral that plays a variety of roles in the body, however, it is one of the most popular supplements used nowadays as well. Its most notable role is as a catalytic and structural element in hundreds of metalloproteins.
Foods containing a high level of zinc include red meat, eggs, and legume products. Oysters have particularly high sources of zinc. It has beneficial effects on antioxidant enzymes, brain function, and the immune system, among many other things. As a supplement, Zinc is most commonly used to reduce the density of illnesses and to provide optimal levels of testosterone.
What Are the Benefits of Zinc?
The benefits you can experience from supplementing with zinc mostly depend on the dietary habits and the zinc levels in the individual’s body. Some experts claim that when zinc levels are low, insulin sensitivity and testosterone may decrease, and supplementation can balance out the levels to a normal scale.
When zinc is present in higher doses it could reduce the duration of common colds, but it’s still a mystery whether they can reduce the risk of getting colds in the first place.
The effects of zinc seem to be most beneficial to throat and nasal symptoms, and using high doses may lead to some mild but notable side-effects like nausea and a metallic taste in the mouth.
People who suffer from depression and acne could also benefit from increased zinc intake if levels are low.
Our body gets rid of zinc through sweat, which means that athletes who don’t get enough zinc from food should take higher doses. Insulin resistance can also decrease zinc levels.
Zinc Benefits For Men
Zinc benefits for men include producing key sex hormones, such as testosterone and prolactin. It could also help create the main component of prostatic fluid. There is evidence that dietary zinc can impact male sexual competency.
Zinc Benefits for Women
When it comes to zinc benefits for women, it is suggested that women who breastfeed should take higher doses of this supplement in order to maintain their immune system and help with blood pressure.
Zinc and Covid-19
Supplementing with zinc to fight COVID-19 has not been studied enough and extrapolation from colds to COVID-19 is invalid.
What Could Be the Side-effects or Drawbacks of Zinc?
Side effects of higher doses of zinc include nausea and other forms of gastrointestinal upset, particularly when taken on an empty stomach. Huge doses of zinc can also result in a copper deficiency and ultimately lead to overdose.
Eating large amounts of foods that are high in zinc may lead to exceeding the tolerable upper intake level for adults, which is 40 mg per day. It is also important to note that most supplements on the market use far more than the RDA and if you combine supplements with zinc rich foods, you may exceed the above mentioned daily recommended dose. High dose zinc lozenges may cause nausea and a metallic taste in your mouth, and should be taken very shortly, if at all.
Can Zinc Deficiency Cause Problems?
If children have low zinc intake it can impair their growth. When it comes to adults, zinc deficiency can result in hypogonadism in men, as well as mental lethargy, depression, and skin abnormalities.
Diabetics who suffer from zinc deficiency can further worsen their insulin resistance. Some experts suggest that inadequate zinc intake affects around 10% of people only in the US, while these rates are over 50% in the whole world population.
Zinc – Recommended Dosage
There are two standard dosages. The low dosage is 5-10mg, while the high dosage is 25-45mg. The first dose is recommended for daily preventive, while the high dosage is recommended for people who are at risk for a zinc deficiency.
How much zinc you should take depends on the type since different supplements contain different amounts of elemental zinc. Here are a few supplements and how much zinc they contain:
Zinc citrate is roughly 34% zinc by weight. If the dose is 50mg elemental zinc, take 146 mg zinc citrate.
Zinc sulfate is roughly 22% zinc by weight. If the dose is 50mg elemental zinc, take 220 mg zinc sulfate.
Zinc gluconate is roughly 13% zinc by weight. If the dose is 50mg elemental zinc, take 385 mg zinc gluconate.
Zinc monomethionine is roughly 21% zinc by weight. If the dose is 50mg elemental zinc, take 238 mg zinc monomethionine.
Zinc carnosine contains 23% zinc and 77% L-carnosine, it is a molecule and not a mixture of zinc and L-carnosine. It is an approved drug requiring a medical prescription in Japan and South Korea where it is clinically used to treat gastric ulcers.
Zinc with Quercetin
Quercetin is also interesting because it is a zinc ionophore, when taken with zinc it helps the zinc enter the cells faster. Some scientists believe that without an ionophore the zinc will not do its job properly.
Zinc should be supplemented every day.
Larger doses of zinc include taking up to 100mg a day and it is considered safe in the short term (2-4 months), but because this dose is higher than the 40mg Tolerable Upper Limit (TUL) of zinc, this dosage isn’t recommended due to the possible drawbacks.
Zinc’s intestinal uptake is interfered by other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron because they all use the same transporter. If the transporter’s uptake limit (800mg) is exceeded between these four minerals, absorption rates will fall. However, if you consume less than 800mg of these four minerals combined it is considered safe.
When zinc supplements are used for reducing the common cold, the most effective total daily dose is over 75 mg and is divided into 6-8 doses, each separated by 2-3 hours when awake. However, it is dangerous to take this dosage of zinc lozenges for longer periods of time.
Zinc – The Verdict
Zinc is essentially a mineral beneficial to many aspects of health.
Supplementing with 15–30 mg of elemental zinc could improve the immune system, blood sugar levels, and eye, heart, and skin health. Be careful not to excess an intake of 40 mg.
Side effects include digestive issues, flu-like symptoms, and reduced copper absorption and antibiotic effectiveness.
Zinc supplements are widely available and you can find them at your local health store, or pharmacy.
If you are interested in increasing your zinc intake through your diet, foods that contain this mineral are nuts, seeds, legumes, red meat, seafood, and dairy.