Zinc is a trace mineral that’s essential for numerous roles within the body. It is involved in cellular metabolism, immune function, wound healing, and our ability to synthesize protein and DNA. It helps the body develop during pregnancy and childhood. (1) Because the body doesn’t have a way of storing zinc, it’s important to consistently get enough in your diet.
What are symptoms of Zinc Deficiency?
- Stunted Growth
- Low Appetite
- Suppressed immune system
- Hair Loss
- Sexual issues
- Weight Loss
- Delayed wound healing
What is Zinc good for?
Zinc for common cold
Zinc has been found to be effective because it has been proven that inadequate zinc levels impair immune responses, but other zinc benefits are at work here too.
For instance, zinc can inhibit rhinovirus (the virus that causes colds). It can also calm inflamed nasal passages. But the trick is to use lozenges or syrups, which spend more time in contact with the nose and throat. (2) Also, be sure to take zinc within 24 hours of when you start feeling cold symptoms for best results. (11)(12)(13)
A word of warning: Nasal sprays and gels containing zinc (intranasal zinc) have been known to damage the sense of smell in some users, so you might want to avoid those. (14) Consult with your healthcare practitioner to get the best health advice.
Zinc for acne
Topical Zinc is great for mild acne as it can keep the zits at bay.
Zinc for Cancer
Zinc has been shown to be effective in combination with Chlorquine for the treatment for cancer. In 2014 an article was published about the role of using these antimalarial agents for its anticancer effect. This study looked at the interaction of zinc ions with chloroquine in a human ovarian cancer cell line. Chloroquine changes the cell wall of cancer cells allowing zinc to penetrate cancer cells. Once inside the cancer cell zinc has demonstrated effectiveness in altering the cell wall of cancer cells permeability and interferring with the gene expression. The combination of chloroquine and zinc enhances chlorooquine’s cytotoxicity and induces apoptosis in A2790 cells. Thus chloroquine is a zinc ionophore, a property that may contribute to chloroquine’s cancer activity. This also may explain the mechanism of action.
Zinc ions exhibit anticancer activity by altering lysosome membrane permeability and via gene expression regulation. Zinc at cytotoxic concentrations has been shown to regulate gene transcription in cancer cells. In another article, high zinc availability enhances p-body assembly, globally down-regulating microRNA expression.
Zinc effectively inhibits the proliferation of coronaviruses such as polio virus (polio), SARS (avian flu) and influenza (flu). Very impressive study which shows that ZINC blocks the special virus RNAse in a dose-dependent effect. This explains the fantastic effect of influenza. Graphics from the publication, (c) Plospathogens, Nov. 2010 – show very clearly the suppression of virus propagation in a dose-dependent manner by zinc:
the higher the zinc concentration, the more virus replication is inhibited
What foods contain zinc?
Best sources of Zinc include:
- Oysters, breaded and fried: 74 mg per 3 oz. serving
- Beef chuck roast: 7 mg per 3 oz. serving
- Pumpkin seeds, dried: 6.6 mg per 3 oz. serving
- Alaska king crab: 6.5 mg per 3 oz. serving
- Cashews, dry roasted: 4.8 mg per 3 oz. serving
- Fortified breakfast cereal: 3.8 mg per ¾ cup serving
- Lobster: 3.4 mg per 3 oz. serving
- Baked beans: 2.9 mg per ½ cup serving
- Chicken, dark meat: 2.4 ounces per 3 oz. serving
How is Zinc Supplied?
Zinc is usually used as zinc sulfate or zinc gluconate. My favorite form of zinc is zinc chelate as it has better absorption that zinc sulfate and zinc gluconate. Chelate means it is formulated with an amino acid group. The amino acid group tricks the stomach into thinking it is a protein and causes better absorption. This means you need a lower dose to get the similar effects because of the chelated form of the chemical.
However taking higher doses of zinc can cause side effects and other issues.
Zinc toxicity can include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. Also intakes of zinc at 150-450 mg per day have been associated with low copper status, altered iron function, reduced immune function, and reduced levels of HDL proteins. Another study, found that 80mg a day of zinc for 6.3 years led to an increase in hospitalizations for urinary tract infection and renal failure when compared to a placebo.
When do I recommend taking Zinc supplements?
We recommend Reacted Zinc when our patients are taking medications including lisinopril or enalapril. Reacted Zinc contains 54mg of chelated zinc per capsule. Lisinopril and similar medications have shown to increase the excretion of zinc through the urine after 6 months of therapy. If you are not sure which zinc supplement to start with click on the link below for my online supplement dispensary. The zinc supplement that we commonly recommend in the pharmacy is Reacted Zinc and it is 54mg of zinc once daily.