What is Zinc?
Zinc is a trace element which means that we need it in small quantities for numerous bodily functions, growth and maintenance. It plays a role in a variety of biochemical processes like cell production as well as helping to maintain hormone levels.
Zinc also helps us to absorb essential nutrients and plays a vital role in the protein synthesis necessary for cell growth and repair. We know for sure that without zinc, many of our essential bodily functions would go awry.
The WHO has stated that over 30% of the world’s population are deficient in zinc. There are a number of symptoms of zinc deficiency such as muscle waste, hair loss and poor immunity. For a detailed look at these symptoms and the risk factors, you can click this link.
It is always best to get your zinc from dietary sources where possible but for people who are deficient it may be necessary to supplement instead.
There are several different forms of zinc supplements that you can take including zinc orotate, zinc gluconate, zinc oxide and zinc acetate.
Zinc orotate may not be the best known zinc supplement but many experts regard it as the very best form of zinc that you can take.
Zinc Orotate Supplements
Zinc orotate was discovered by a German doctor called Hans Nieper and is actually a mineral salt present in trace amounts in the body. It is composed of a zinc atom with 2 orotic acid molecules. Dr. Nieper noted that zinc orotate was absorbed more readily by the body than other forms of zinc which gave it more potential to treat and prevent disease.
When compared to zinc chloride, zinc sulfate and zinc carbonate he demonstrated that zinc orotate was more bioavailable. Many types of zinc supplement are not readily absorbed into the cell membrane however research indicates that zinc orotate is different.
Research done by Dr. Nieper himself demonstrated that zinc orotate molecules had a greater neutral charge than other types of zinc which allowed them to pas far more easily into the cellular membrane which effectively allows our bodies to receive the highest serving of the supplement possible.
Benefits of Zinc Supplements
So you are thinking of supplementing with zinc but how much do you know about the health benefits that you are going to gain? Let’s take a look at some of the most important…
1) For the Skin and Acne
Zinc may not be a magic cure for acne but there is plenty of evidence that it is necessary if you want to maintain a clear and healthy complexion. Many acne sufferers are also zinc deficient and many have noticed their acne improving after they start taking supplements.
Indeed, skin complaints and a sallow looking complexion are some of the telltale signs of a zinc deficiency.
As we have already mentioned, zinc plays an all important role in cell growth, replication and repair and this applies to the skin as much as any other part of the body.
2) For Testosterone
Zinc helps to modulate testosterone levels and therefore plays a vital role in male fertility.
Zinc deficiency in men is linked to significantly reduced testosterone levels which can have a very damaging effect on both fertility and sex drive.
One study demonstrated that after restricting the zinc intake of the participants for 5 months, supplementing with zinc had a significant impact on testosterone levels in the majority of participants. (1)
3) For Hair Loss
Your hair is mainly comprised of 2 proteins called keratin and collagen. A deficiency in zinc has a negative impact on these proteins which can lead to your hair becoming weak and eventually thinning or balding.
A zinc deficiency also leads to a reduction in sebum production which means the follicles lose their strength.
4) For Diarrhea
Some of the symptoms of a zinc deficiency are chronic digestive conditions and diarrhea. There is evidence that supplementing with zinc can help cure diarrhea as well as preventing chronic diseases of the intestines.
5) Colds and Immunity
When you mention zinc, many people will think about its ability to fight colds and there is good reason for this. Taking zinc supplements over a period of several months can actually reduce your chances of developing illnesses like the cold or flu.
There is also evidence that if you start supplementing after becoming sick that zinc can help speed up your recovery.
Research published in 2013 by Indian researchers revealed that if you start taking zinc supplements within the first 24 hours of the onset of your cold, symptoms disappeared significantly faster. (2)
6) Antioxidants and Potential Cancer Protection
Largely due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, zinc reduces the risk of developing serious illnesses including cancer. Its role in supporting the healthy division of cells helps prevent cancerous cells developing and inhibits the growth of tumors.
Researchers in Michigan found that when zinc supplements were given to 50 elderly patients, oxidative stress was significantly reduced compared to those given a placebo. Those in the placebo group had raised inflammatory cytokine levels and other markers putting them at more risk of illness. (3)
Zinc is necessary to balance many of the body’s hormones including the insulin responsible for regulating blood sugar. Zinc can benefit the level of blood sugar by binding to insulin allowing for it to be stored by the pancreas and released effectively. However, diabetics should proceed with caution as large doses can actually reduce blood sugar levels.
8) Heart Health
Zinc can benefit the health of your heart in numerous ways. It reduces oxidative stress and inflammation and supports good circulation. It is also viewed as an effective treatment for high cholesterol, blood pressure and clogged arteries.
9) Nutrient Absorption
Zinc is also necessary to ensure that carbs are broken down and used properly by the body as energy.one of the telltale signs of a zinc deficiency is low levels of energy and chronic fatigue. Making sure that you have enough zinc in your system can ensure more energy and an improved metabolism.
Zinc Supplement Dosage
The following dosage guide refers to elemental zinc but be aware that the amount of elemental zinc varies from supplement to supplement and you should read the facts on the packaging.
- Adult males – 15 mg a day
- Adult females – 12 mg a day
- Pregnant women 15 mg a day
- Breast feeding women -16-19 mg a day
Recommended daily allowance for children
- Birth to 3 years old – 5-10 mg a day
- 4 to 10 years of age – 10 mg a day
Dietary sources of Zinc
If possible, try to get your zinc quota from your diet. Food that is especially rich in zinc includes:
- Beef and lamb
- Wheat germ
- Pumpkin seeds
- Cashew nuts
- Pork and chicken
- Chocolate and cocoa powder
Side effects of Zinc Supplements
- Zinc supplements are considered generally safe when taken orally in doses up to 40 mg a day however you should consult your doctor before going ahead with supplementation.
- Potential side effects include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, stomach and kidney problems.
- In doses over 40 mg a day, supplements may affect copper absorption which can result in anemia.
- Very high doses of zinc can result in numerous side effects including fever, coughing, fatigue and stomach pain. There is even concern that at doses of over 100 mg a day, zinc supplements can increase the risk of prostate cancer.