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Zinc

Overview

Zinc is one of the essential minerals – minerals that your body needs in order to function properly. It is found in small amounts in every cell in the body, and contributes to 300 different chemical interactions that sustain life by stimulating the actions of 100 different enzymes. Zinc is needed for normal growth and development, especially during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence. It is also a vital part of DNA synthesis, helps support the immune system and is needed to help wounds heal properly. Recent research suggests that zinc may help lessen the length and severity of colds, as well as boosting the effectiveness of some vitamins and hormones. Zinc has been used as a topical ointment and a dietary supplement for decades.

 

What Zinc Does:

Zinc stimulates anti-viral activity in your body, and stimulates the actions of over 100 different enzymes. Those enzymes are responsible for vital parts of the process of converting food to energy, differentiating cells, fighting disease, regulating temperature in your body and more. Zinc plays a role in the production of healthy sperm in males, and helps cells begin to differentiate in a developing fetus, making the mineral a vital ingredient in reproduction. In addition, zinc is an antioxidant that helps speed the healing of all types of wounds, and is effective against symptoms of various immune system disorders.

 

Where Zinc Comes From:

Zinc occurs naturally in a number of foods, though the highest sources of zinc are animal sources. Red meat, poultry, fortified breakfast cereals and some nuts and dried beans all provide some zinc, but other than meat and fortified breakfast cereal, few food sources provide more than 10% of the recommended daily allowance of zinc in one serving.

 

Health Benefits of Zinc:

Because of its role as an antioxidant, and in so many bodily processes, zinc offers many health benefits. Zinc is essential, and lowered levels of zinc contribute to lowered disease resistance, lower healing capability and poor digestive and metabolic processing for your body. Specifically, research has shown that:

 

  • Zinc can lessen the duration of cold symptoms and soothe sore throats.

In studies, subjects who sucked on a zinc lozenge every few hours got over their cold symptoms about three days sooner than those who took a placebo. Scientists believe that zinc may actually kill the cold virus.

  • Zinc prevents canker sores and helps speed their healing.

  • Zinc helps your body heal wounds more quickly.

Zinc is one of the nutrients that your body uses in rebuilding damaged skin. Researchers speculate that taking zinc supplements to ensure adequate supplies of zinc in your system may help heal skin disorders such as acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.

  • Zinc increases the effectiveness of acne preparations

In at least one study, taking zinc supplements boosted the effectiveness of topical acne medications in clearing up acne.

  • Zinc contributes to eye health.

Because it is vital in processes in the retina and macula, zinc supplements have been shown to slow vision loss in cases of macular degeneration. Zinc also seems to boost the effectiveness of vitamin A, a vitamin that’s vital to eye health. And in a study in France, 78% of the people who treated seasonal conjunctivitis with a combination of zinc and antihistamines showed considerable improvement in their symptoms.

  • Zinc may help improve levels of insulin in diabetics.

Zinc is instrumental in the manufacture of hormones like insulin in the body, which may help control blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes. In addition, high blood sugar slows the body’s ability to heal wounds, and zinc may help offset that problem.

  • Zinc protects against osteoporosis.

Because zinc helps the body to absorb other minerals, zinc and copper supplements are sometimes used to help strengthen bones to resist osteoporosis.

 

Recommended Daily Intake of Zinc:

 

  • Children 1-3 years – 3 mg

  • Children 4-8 years –  7 mg

  • Children 9-13 years – 8 mg

  • Males 14-18 – 11 mg

  • Females 14-18 –  9 mg

  • Males 19+ - 11 mg

  • Females 19+ - 8 mg

  • Males 50+ - 11 mg

  • Females 50+ - 8 mg

  • Pregnant females – 11 mg

  • Lactating females – 12 mg

 

In addition, the National Academy of Science has established tolerable upper level intake references for zinc. These numbers represent the highest amount of zinc intake that have not been associated with adverse health effects. Those under medical treatment may be prescribed higher levels of zinc, but it is important that they be monitored by a medical professional for any health problems.

 

  • Children 1-3 years – 7 mg

  • Children 4-8 years –  12 mg

  • Children 9-13 years – 23 mg

  • Males 14-18 – 34 mg

  • Females 14-18 –  34 mg

  • Males 19+ - 40 mg

  • Females 19+ - 40 mg

  • Males 50+ - 40 mg

  • Females 50+ - 40 mg

  • Pregnant females – 40 mg

  • Lactating females – 40 mg

 

Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency:

Severe zinc deficiency is rare in the U.S. and other developed countries, but studies are increasingly showing that even moderately low levels of zinc may lead to depressed immune system function. The conditions associated with low levels of zinc include increased risk of cold and flu, diminished sense of taste and smell, lowered glucose tolerance (which could lead to diabetes), eczema, acne, psoriasis, slow wound healing and low sperm counts. Because the highest natural sources of zinc are meats and meat products, those who don’t eat red meat should be especially careful to include fortified cereals and nutritional supplements with zinc in their daily diet.

 

Zinc Toxicity:

Excessive intake of zinc can result in zinc toxicity, with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Some studies suggest that taking high dosages of zinc for a long period of time can negatively affect cholesterol balance and diminish immune system function. While dosages far in excess of the RDA are routinely prescribed for various conditions, most nutritionists caution against taking more than 100 mg of zinc daily to avoid these problems.

 

Supplementing with Zinc:

Because the daily requirements for zinc are low, and high levels of zinc can result in health problems, most people find that the zinc in a daily total health supplement provides enough zinc for their nutritional needs. A whole health nutritional supplement like Total Balance from Xtend-Life Natural Products contains 10 mgs of zinc, 75% of the daily recommended intake. Because Total Balance is synergistically balanced to provide maximum benefits from all of its ingredients, zinc works in concert with 11 other essential minerals and 70 vital nutrients to help keep your body in top working order.

 

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