Zinc is an essential mineral found in all organs, tissues, and fluids in the body.
As the second most abundant trace mineral in the body after iron, zinc plays a pivotal role in a variety of biological processes.
Here are 11 reasons why you should not ignore the amazing benefits of zinc.
1. Boosts Immunity and Lowers Risk of Infection
Zinc is essential for the normal development and function of many immune cells.
Because of the critical role, it plays in the immune system, even a mild deficiency can impair immune function and increase the risk of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infection.
In clinical states associated with immunodeficiency (e.g., sickle cell disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, Down syndrome, and in the elderly), zinc supplementation can restore natural killer cell activity, lymphocyte production, and resistance to infection.
2. Controls Inflammation
Zinc inhibits the production of many inflammatory cytokines (by inhibiting NF-kB).
Studies in the elderly (who are often zinc deficient) show that it suppresses inflammation by lowering cytokines and other inflammatory markers.
Zinc has also amazing benefits in fighting variety of inflammatory conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, acne, and asthma.
In an aged mouse model, supplementation resulted in fewer age-related increases in inflammatory markers.
3. Enhances Wound Healing and Tissue Repair
Zinc enhanced the repair of skin ulcers in diabetic patients. Also, its deficiency is linked to delayed wound healing.
Studies in animals and humans show that zinc administration can speed up the healing process after surgery, burns, and other wounds.
When applied topically, zinc oxide improved the healing of excisional wounds in rats.
4. Reduces Stress and Improves Mood
Zinc supplementation has shown efficacy in treating mood disorders (e.g., depression and anxiety) clinically and in animal models.
It also increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels, which are low in people with depression.
A study found that zinc therapy was able to improve overall mood in overweight subjects, likely through increasing BDNF levels.
5. Controls Cell Death
Both high and low intracellular concentrations of zinc trigger apoptosis (cell death) in many cell types.
6. Promotes Growth
In a number of studies, zinc supplementation produced significant beneficial effects on both height and weight measures of children, especially in underweight children and children suffering from stunted growth.
An analysis of studies of growth in children revealed that a dose of 10 mg of zinc daily for 24 weeks led to a net increase of around 0.37 cm (in height) in zinc-supplemented children compared to children treated with a placebo.
It also increases muscle mass in children.
7. Protects the Gut
Zinc supplementation has a protective effect on the gut lining of animal models and humans in a variety of gastrointestinal diseases (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, alcohol toxicity, and colitis).
It stabilized the gut mucosa and reduced stomach and small intestinal injuries by enhancing gut repair processes in rats and mice.
Zinc also protected the intestinal mucosa from alcohol-induced damage in rats and mice. It can prevent gut leakiness, which may reduce the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease.
8. Improves Sleep Quality
Women and children with higher blood zinc concentrations have better sleep quality.
A study in infants revealed that zinc supplementation was able to prolong sleep duration.
9. Stimulates Appetite
One of the earliest signs of a zinc deficiency is a loss of appetite.
A study in rats showed that oral zinc supplementation was able to rapidly stimulate food intake (by increasing orexin and neuropeptide Y).
Clinical studies in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) show a significant association between the disease and low blood zinc levels.
Many studies with oral zinc supplementation reported an increase in weight gain, muscle mass, appetite, taste sensitivity, and food intake in patients.
10. Protects the Liver
Zinc supplementation in animal models of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) protected the liver by blocking most mechanisms of liver injury (i.e., gut leakage, endotoxemia, oxidative stress, excess inflammatory cytokine production, and liver cell death).
In patients with non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis, supplemental zinc improved liver function and prevented excessive copper accumulation, which can damage the liver.
Zinc also improved the outcome of patients with hepatitis C which, if left untreated, can lead to liver scarring.
11. Improves Oral Health
Zinc deficiency can lead to excessive plaque formation and worsen the inflammatory process in gum disease (from increased production of IL-1).
Zinc-based mouthwashes were found to be effective in reducing plaque growth.
Similarly, a study in children from low-income areas found that a daily intake of 15 mg of zinc for ten weeks was associated with reduced plaque formation on the teeth.