You only have a small amount of zinc in your body, but this trace mineral can make a big difference to your health and well-being. Zinc – a metal that’s found in the earth’s crust and throughout the natural world – can help prevent you from getting sick, make cuts and scrapes heal faster, regulate hormones, and keep you in a good state of mind, among lots of other benefits. You only need to consume a small amount of zinc every day – the recommended daily intake for men is 11 milligrams, while women should aim for 8 milligrams daily. This article lists just a few of the benefits of zinc.
Stronger immune system
Zinc is well-known as a remedy for the common cold. That’s because it works: people who take zinc supplements when they feel a cold coming on cut down on the duration of their symptoms. But zinc strengthens your immune system all the time, not just when you’re coming down with the sniffles. Zinc activates T cells, which regulate the immune system and attack pathogens in the body. Make it a habit to get enough zinc even when you’re healthy, and you’ll be less likely to come down with a bug in the first place.
Decreased risk of cancer
Zinc is an antioxidant, meaning it binds to harmful free radical molecules in the body and neutralizes them. This decreases the amount of inflammation and oxidative stress in the body and cuts down on a whole host of health problems, including many types of cancer. Zinc also promotes healthy cell production. Besides lowering the odds of cancer, this also causes wounds to heal faster.
If you’re having trouble conceiving, you might not be getting enough zinc. An important hormone regulator, zinc can affect estrogen and testosterone, which are directly linked to fertility. Men need zinc to maintain healthy testosterone levels and keep the prostate tissue healthy. Likewise, zinc is necessary for women to produce a healthy egg.
Better brain health
Zinc plays a crucial role in the way neurons in the brain communicate with each other. Low levels of zinc are associated with poor performance on cognitive tasks and an increased risk of age-related cognitive decline, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Adequate levels of zinc, on the other hand, are associated with improved memory and cognitive function.
Scientists have found that people suffering from depression also tend to have low levels of zinc. Though the connection between zinc and depression isn’t fully understood yet, it’s known that zinc is a necessary component of the enzymes that create serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. If you’ve been suffering from the blues lately, increasing your zinc intake might bring you some relief.
Since zinc performs so many important functions in your body, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a zinc deficiency can take a toll on you both physically and mentally. People who don’t get enough of this important mineral may suffer from weakened immune systems, infertility, fatigue, and diarrhea – to name just a few unpleasant symptoms. However, if you’re trying to increase your intake, especially if you are taking zinc supplements, use caution. Too much zinc can be just as harmful as too little. Consuming excessive amounts of zinc can cause nausea, loss of appetite, copper deficiency, and anxiety. If you think you’re not getting enough zinc, a doctor can advise you on how to safely increase your intake.