Zinc is a critical part of your daily vitamin and mineral consumption. It contributes to your body’s immunity, healing, and digestion. Signs of zinc deficiency are:
- white spots or bands under the fingernails
- hair loss
- loss of sense of taste and smell
You can increase your zinc intake with dietary supplements, but it is important to remember that many foods either naturally contain zinc or are enriched with zinc during production. Breakfast cereals are often enriched with vitamins and minerals during production, which make them excellent sources for zinc, calcium, and niacin.
Daily Requirement of Zinc
The recommended daily requirement for zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. These requirements vary with pregnancy, lactation, and people being treated for a zinc deficiency. Vitamins and minerals have many important functions in our daily nutrition, and zinc is unique in that it is crucial to the protection our bodies against everyday environmental harms. Most of the time we are unaware of just how many dangers we are exposed to because of our zinc protection.
Function #1: Metabolism
Present in almost all of your cells, zinc promotes the activity of hundreds of enzymes your body uses to metabolize nutrients. Zinc helps you metabolize fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and energy, while strengthening and protecting your cells. It also binds to DNA, which allows your genes to give your cells marching orders to boost growth and immunity. Zinc is also present in certain foods that are known to speed up your metabolism, such as potatoes and lobster.
Function #2: Immunity & Healing
The same cells in your body that are strengthened and protected by zinc are what make your body strong and protect it from disease and infection. When your cells are not functioning at their strongest capacity, you are in a weakened state and much more susceptible to illness and disease. Your cells’ ability to kill off germs you are exposed to is diminished, making your body a playground for annoying and sometimes dangerous illnesses. The same goes for zinc’s contribution to your skin’s strength and regeneration. If you are zinc deficient, a regular paper cut that usually heals in a couple of days can last for weeks. Long term open wounds are much more susceptible to infection and your lack of zinc will not help your cells fight.
Function #3: Vision & Eye Health
Since zinc is found in almost every cell in your body, it is present in your eyes and it is protecting your retinal cells. Zinc cannot cure vision loss or age related macular degeneration, but it can help to prevent vision loss by keeping your eyes strong and healthy, and it can slow the progression of age related macular degeneration. Zinc also prevents painful lesions from forming on your eyes due to poor eye health.
Function #4: Skin & Hair Care
In addition to wound healing, zinc is an amazing contributer in the treatment of acne and other skin conditions. Zinc has the ability to sooth irritated skin with its natural anti-inflammatory and drying agents. Both the consumption or topical application of zinc can help with these problems. Along with aiding in the treatment of painfully inflamed skin conditions, zinc is also found in anti-dandruff shampoos. In addition to your scalp, zinc strengthens the cells that help generate hair growth and maintains healthy hair by preventing hair loss.