Who Can Benefit from Zinc Supplements?
Zinc supplements can be used to treat many common ailments. They should only be taken for short periods before having a break as can cause toxicity.
Zinc is an important trace mineral in the body. It is required for many functions including cell growth, blood clotting, the senses vision, smell, taste and the functioning of both insulin and the thyroid gland. It is also needed by the immune system, nervous system, hormone release, for growth and development and reproduction. Most of us get enough zinc from the food we eat. Zinc food sources include red meat, poultry, fish, oysters, beans, nuts, legumes, dairy products, whole grains, cereals and breads Although zinc deficiency is rare due to the fact that we get most of our zinc from our diets, zinc supplements can be used to treat and prevent many common ailments. This article discusses the symptoms of zinc deficiency, the health benefits of zinc supplements, recommended dosages and side effects.
Common causes of zinc deficiency include alcoholism, anorexia, malabsorption, inflammatory bowel diseases, famine, diet and also is more common in people over the age of 75. The initial symptoms of zinc deficiency include lack of taste and smell; loss of appetite, poor wound healing and white spots on the fingernails. As zinc deficiency worsens, symptoms can include depression, acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, night blindness and stunted growth in children.
The Health Benefits of Zinc Supplements
Zinc supplements can be used to prevent and treat many common ailments. It should be noted that zinc supplements should not be taken for the long term due to risk of serious side effects. Using them for short periods before taking a few months break is generally considered safe. Zinc can be used to treat the following ailments.
- Colds and Influenza
Zinc helps to booster the immune system. The severity and duration of a cold or influenza can be reduced by taking a zinc supplement at the onset of symptoms. Zinc lozenges tend to be the most effective and are available in most chemists. Ensuring you are getting enough zinc in your diet can help prevent colds and influenza.
- Acne Treatment
Some studies have shown that zinc can help to prevent acne breakouts and accelerate the healing of lesions. It is recommended to take 30mgs of zinc picolinate twice daily for one month and then reduce it to 30mgs once a day. Zinc picolinate is more easily absorbed than other zinc supplements.
- Premenstrual Syndrome
Studies have shown that zinc supplements may be of benefit for some women in treating symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Many women find relief from abdominal cramps, mood swings and breast tenderness associated with the menstrual cycle. Zinc deficiency is also common in pregnant women and can adversely affect the fetus causing low birth weight, premature birth, congenital abnormalities and delivery complications. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about taking a zinc supplement to reduce these risks.
- Treatment for Major Depression
Zinc deficiency is common in people with major depression. A study found that a group of people with major depression, who were given 25mg of zinc per day compared to a placebo group, significantly improved their symptoms of depression on two different depression scales. It should be noted that both groups continued their anti-depressant medication whilst participating in this study. If you suffer from depression, talk to your doctor about a zinc supplement and try to ensure your diet includes zinc rich foods.
- Male Fertility Booster
Zinc helps to booster healthy male sperm production and increase testosterone levels. Zinc in the seminal fluid helps to protect sperm from bacteria and chromosomal damage. Zinc deficiency is common in men with impotence, infertility and other reproductive problems. Taking a 10mg supplement of zinc per day has shown to be effective in treating these fertility disorders.
- Eye Health
Studies have shown that zinc is important in treating and preventing eye problems. It helps to treat and prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Zinc deficiency is common in these eye disorders and they are the leading causes of blindness as we age. Ensuring you get enough zinc in your diet can help to prevent the development of these eye disorders.
Recommended Daily Intake of Zinc
For female adults, the recommended daily dosage of zinc is 8mgs. For adult males it is 11mgs. Pregnant females should try to get 12mgs per day. Most people, to ensure you are getting enough zinc per day, can simply take a regular daily multi-vitamin with minerals. Taking a zinc supplement to address any of the conditions detailed above should only be taken for a short period to prevent symptoms of toxicity and copper deficiency. Always consult your doctor before taking a zinc supplement.
Zinc Supplement Side Effects
Zinc supplements can cause toxicity in the body if taken when not required. Side effects of toxicity can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It can also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb copper and cause additional side effects due to copper deficiency. Zinc supplements should never be taken if you are on a course of antibiotics as may reduce their effectiveness. Zinc supplements can also interact with your current medication. You should always consult a doctor before taking any supplements who can advise you about whether it is appropriate for you and recommend dosages.
Zinc is considered the second most important mineral in the body compared to Iron. Although we need very little of it, it plays a major role in a whole host of bodily functions. If you suspect you may be zinc deficient or are suffering from any of the ailments discussed above, talk to your doctor about taking a zinc supplement.
University of Maryland Medical Center Zinc Retrieved September 12,2012
Mayo Clinic Zinc Retrieved September 12,2012
Intelihealth Zinc Supplements Retrieved September 12,2012
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.