This mineral is actually a wonder of health benefits. “Zinc is such a critical element in human health that even a small deficiency is a disaster.” Zinc is so important because it is found in every tissue in the body and is directly involved in cell division.
Vital for growth and cell division Zinc is especially important during pregnancy, for the growing fetus whose cells are rapidly dividing. Zinc also helps to avoid congenital abnormalities and pre-term delivery. Zinc is vital in activating growth - height, weight and bone development - in infants, children and teenagers.
Vital for Athletic Performance and Strength Adequate zinc directly affects athletic performance and strength development from training because it plays a primary role in anabolic hormone production. Research shows having ample zinc available in the body allows for a more robust release of the three most important anabolic hormones, testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Without these, you’ll miss out on muscle and strength development from your hard work in the gym.
Vital for fertility Zinc plays a vital role in fertility. In males, zinc protects the prostate gland from infection (prostatitis) and ultimately from enlargement (prostatic hypertrophy). Zinc helps maintain sperm count and mobility and normal levels of serum testosterone. In females, zinc can help treat menstrual problems and alleviate symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Vital for the immune system among all the vitamins and minerals, zinc shows the strongest effect on our all-important immune system. An increase of the zinc level has proven effective in fighting pneumonia and diarrhea and other infections. Zinc can also reduce the duration and severity of a common cold.
Vital for taste, smell and appetite Zinc activates areas of the brain that receive and process information from taste and smell sensors. Levels of zinc in plasma and zinc’s effect on other nutrients, like copper and manganese, influence appetite and taste preference. Zinc is also used in the treatment of anorexia.
Vital for skin, hair and nails Zinc accelerates the renewal of the skin cells. Zinc creams are used for babies to soothe diaper rash and to heal cuts and wounds. Zinc has also proven effective in treating acne, a problem that affects especially adolescents.
Vital for vision High concentrations of zinc are found in the retina. With age the retinal zinc declines which seem to play a role in the development of age-related macular degeneration. Zinc may also protect from night blindness and prevent the development of cataracts.
Where do we get zinc from? We get zinc primarily from our food. The major sources of zinc are (red) meat, poultry, fish and seafood, whole cereals and dairy products. Zinc is most available to the body from meat. The bioavailability of plant-based foods is generally lower due to dietary fiber and physic acid which inhibit the absorption of zinc.