Not only is zinc one of the most abundant trace minerals in your body, but it also plays a key role in nearly every aspect of health. For example, zinc is required as a cofactor for more than 300 different enzymes, meaning it’s needed for their proper functioning.
Plus, with research showing that this mineral may enhance immune function, stabilize blood sugar levels, and support skin, eyes, and heart health, there are plenty of reasons to ensure you get your daily dose.
Zinc is vital for many aspects of health and has been associated with a variety of benefits.
Zinc supplements are often used to help treat and prevent zinc deficiency.
Though zinc deficiency is uncommon, the mineral is considered an essential nutrient, meaning that your body is unable to produce it on its own. People with restrictive diets, impaired nutrient absorption, or certain health conditions may be more susceptible.
Symptoms of a zinc deficiency include decreased immunity, hair loss, poor appetite, diarrhea, and slow wound healing.
Multiple studies have found that taking zinc supplements effectively increases zinc levels in the blood.
According to one review, most cases of zinc deficiency are easily corrected with supplements and dietary modifications, leading to a rapid improvement of any symptoms caused by deficiency.
For example, diarrhea may improve within just 24 hours, whereas skin lesions typically heal within 1–2 weeks after people start taking the supplements.
If you’re getting enough zinc in your diet, supplements may not be necessary. If you suspect that you may have a deficiency, a doctor can test your blood levels to determine if a supplement could be beneficial.
May improve immune function
Many over-the-counter (OTC) medications and natural remedies feature zinc due to its ability to boost immune function and fight inflammation. Thus, it could potentially help treat certain types of infection if used when symptoms first appear.
One review of 7 studies showed that zinc lozenges containing 80–92 mg of zinc may reduce the duration of the common cold by up to 33%.
Zinc may also act as an antioxidant, reducing inflammation and protecting against chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
According to a review of 28 studies, some evidence suggests that taking zinc could even prevent symptoms and shorten the duration of certain respiratory tract infections.
May promote blood sugar management
Zinc is well known for its role in blood sugar management and insulin secretion. Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from your bloodstream to your tissues .
Some research suggests that zinc may help keep blood sugar levels steady and improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin.
One review reported that low zinc levels could be linked to impaired blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes.
Other research shows that zinc may help reduce insulin resistance, which can improve your body’s ability to use insulin efficiently to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Helps fight acne
Zinc supplements are often used to promote skin health and treat common skin conditions like acne.
A type of zinc called zinc sulfate has been proven especially useful for decreasing symptoms of mild to moderate acne.
According to one review, not only did people with acne tend to have lower blood levels of zinc compared with those without acne, but zinc supplements were also able to decrease the average amount of inflammatory bumps caused by the condition.
Zinc supplements are also often favored over other treatment methods, as they’re inexpensive, effective, and associated with far fewer side effects.
May improve heart health
Heart disease is a serious health condition, accounting for roughly 33% of deaths worldwide.
Some research shows that taking zinc may improve several risk factors for heart disease. They may even lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
A review of 24 studies found that zinc supplements decreased levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood triglycerides. As such, they could potentially help prevent heart disease.
Another analysis of nine studies showed that zinc supplements could reduce systolic blood pressure levels, which is the top number of blood pressure readings.
However, research on the effects of supplements on blood pressure is limited. Further, some studies suggest that low levels of serum zinc may be associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease, though findings remain inconclusive. Thus, more research is needed.
Slows macular degeneration
Macular degeneration is a common eye disease and one of the leading causes of vision loss around the globe.
Zinc supplements are often used to slow the progression of age related macular degeneration and help protect against vision loss and blindness.
One 2014 study in 72 people with AMD showed that taking 50 mg of zinc sulfate daily for 3 months slowed the progression of the disease.
Other reviews similarly recommend zinc supplements to slow the progression of AMD, claiming that it may improve nutrient flow in the retina to protect against disease.
However, other studies suggest that zinc supplements alone may not significantly improve vision and should be paired with other treatment options to maximize results.
As such, more research is needed to learn more about the connection between this mineral and eye health.
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