What makes Zinc essential, and how to make sure you're really getting enough.
2 min read
Zinc is an essential nutrient required for over 200 enzymatic processes within the body. The body doesn't produce or store Zinc which means we must get it from our diet or supplementation.
Of all the trace minerals, this element is second only to iron in concentration in the body. Zinc is found throughout our body, in our cells, tissues, and organs; but most of the Zinc in the average adult body is contained in our muscles and bones.
What foods have Zinc in them?
Zinc is generally found in protein sources such as red meat, poultry (darker meat areas), eggs and seafood. Vegetarians can obtain Zinc from eggs, cheese, beans, pumpkin seeds, grains and nuts, although Zinc is not as easily absorbed through non-animal sources.
What does Zinc do? And why is it so important?
Zinc is one of the essential minerals to our body that is sometimes overlooked but it plays many vital roles in our body.
The essential functions are:
Our immune system support
Zinc contributes to the normal function of many aspects of our immune system, from supporting the barrier our skin provides when it’s healthy, to gene regulation within our lymphocytes.
Zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of cells such as neutrophils and natural killer cells. If we don’t have enough zinc, our acquired immunity can be impaired by preventing the development of T cells (lymphocytes that regulate our immune system and attack infected or cancerous cells).¹
Our hair, skin and nails
Zinc also contributes to the maintenance of normal skin, hair and nails. Taking a zinc supplement can help heal wounds, lessen inflammation, and improve inflammatory conditions such as acne.
Zinc also supports collagen synthesis and DNA repair. Not only that, but zinc is also an antioxidant that can help stabilise membranes, which can help keep skin looking younger and healthier.
Our vision and cognitive function
Zinc contributes to the maintenance of normal vision by helping to maintain the health of the retina, cell membranes, and protein structure of the eye. Zinc supports vitamin A in travelling from the liver to the retina to produce melanin, a pigment that protects the eyes from ultraviolet (UV) light.
Zinc also supports normal cognitive function by acting on our glutamate receptors in the brain and modulating our synapses which contribute significantly to learning and short-term memory.
Our cell division and cell protection
Zinc has a role in maintaining healthy cell division and contributes to protecting cells from oxidative stress.
Zinc is one of the most important trace elements in the body, and plays an important role in growth and development through maintaining healthy cell division.
Zinc also plays an important role in protecting cells from oxidative stress. Zinc helps to regulate inflammation by reducing cytokines and it plays an important role in synthesising antioxidant enzymes which help protect our cells. ²
How much Zinc do I need?The NRV (Nutrient Reference Value) for Zinc is 10mg. (The NRV is a straight replacement of the RDA Recommended Daily Allowance).