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All you need to know about zinc supplements!
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All you need to know about zinc supplements!

2018-11-28
Supplementing with iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium is perhaps more common than supplementing with zinc. Yet all these trace elements belong to the same family and all play a key role in human health.

What is zinc? What is its role in the body?

Zinc is a trace element which is essential for hundreds of reactions that take place in the body. It is also necessary for the body’s defences and for maintaining healthy bones, skin, hair, nails and vision, as well as for mental function. In addition, it supports normal fertility and reproduction.

What are the body’s requirements for zinc?

Despite its importance to health, zinc cannot be stored by the body and therefore needs to be ingested daily from the diet, and if necessary, from zinc supplements. Needs can vary depending on several factors including gender, age and weight, as well as dietary intake of phytates. These are compounds found in certain plant-source foods which prevent zinc from being absorbed by the body. In 2014, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) established the following reference values for average zinc requirements:

  • 7.5-11mg/day for males over 18;
  • 6.2-8.9mg/day for females over 18.

Note: recommended daily amounts can vary depending on country and dietary habits.

What risks are posed by a deficiency in zinc?

A shortfall in zinc can have a negative impact on numerous physiological functions. Fatigue, vision problems, repeated infections, skin problems (dryness, acne, impaired healing, etc), brittle nails, and hair loss are among the symptoms of a lack of zinc. It can also affect fertility, particularly by reducing sperm count.

Who is at risk?

Everyone needs a daily intake of zinc but some studies suggest that, for various reasons, a third of the world’s population does not consume enough of this trace mineral. Vegetarians and vegans are at particular risk here because zinc is primarily contained in meat and seafood. Zinc requirements also increase at certain stages of life. During pregnancy, for example, it is even more important to consume enough in order to ensure the healthy development of the baby. Finally, intestinal absorption of nutriments can be affected by several factors. Older people, those suffering from intestinal problems and alcoholics are particularly vulnerable to zinc deficiency.

What are the benefits offered by zinc supplementation?

Numerous scientific studies support the benefits of taking zinc supplements. Following analysis of various findings, health authorities have moreover recognised a number of health claims made for zinc supplementation. It appears to support the following functions:

  • protein synthesis;
  • normal DNA synthesis;
  • cell division;
  • normal metabolism of food, carbohydrates and fatty acids;
  • normal metabolism of vitamin A ;
  • normal acid-base metabolism;
  • normal mental function;
  • normal fertility and reproduction;
  • maintenance of bones;
  • maintenance of skin, hair and nails;
  • maintenance of normal testosterone concentration in the blood;
  • normal vision;
  • normal immune system function;
  • protection of cells against free radicals.

Which zinc supplement should you choose?

There are two possibilities: a highly-bioavailable form such as zinc orotate, or an enhanced combination product such as MultiMineral Complex. Nowadays, zinc supplements are not only taken to prevent or correct deficiency, but also to capitalise on the many benefits offered by this trace-element. Immunity, antioxidant defence, vision, skin … alongside these previously-mentioned virtues, the latest research suggests that supplementing with zinc may also help fight age-related macular degeneration (AMD), treat the common cold and even stop diarrhoea.

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