10 Health Benefits of Zinc
Last updated on September 18, 2012
Zinc is an essential mineral, critical to human health because it is found in every tissue in the body and is directly involved in cell division. Like many natural minerals, the importance of zinc to human health has to do with preventing zinc deficiency. While not having enough zinc in your diet can cause health problems, too much zinc intake in the body can be toxic and lead to a variety of health conditions as well. It is extremely important to balance zinc levels properly. Perform a zinc level test or consult a physician before taking zinc supplements.
Here are 10 health benefits of zinc:
Maintaining proper levels of zinc in the body is an essential part of cancer prevention. Zinc deficiency may play a crucial role in the development of many types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer. In a study with rats, zinc helped prevent the proliferation of prostate cancer cells. While zinc in and of itself does not prevent or cure cancer, it is needed to maintain a healthy immune system and may have antioxidant properties that help to fight conditions associated with cancer.
Zinc supplements may help curb the side effects of cancer patients receiving radiation therapy. It helps to stimulate the taste buds and research shows can reduce the instances of mouth sores.
Adequate levels of zinc help maintain a healthy, productive immune system. While taking zinc supplements is known to help boost the immune system of a zinc deficient person, it has not been proven to help people with healthy levels of zinc in their body. In fact, an overabundance of zinc can actually weaken the immune system.
Avoiding zinc deficiency is key to preventing cardiovascular disease. Not only does a shortage of zinc contribute to higher cholesterol and increased inflammation, but can actually amplify the negative effects of these and other conditions resulting from poor cardiovascular health.
Zinc is considered a powerful antioxidant that helps to prevent free radical damage and oxidative stress to the body’s cells.
Athletic Strength & Performance
Zinc plays an important role in the production of three hormones considered essential for developing and maintaining muscle strength: testosterone, growth hormone and growth factor-1.
Reproduction & Fertility
Zinc plays a critical role in the reproductive health and fertility of both men and women. It is essential for proper hormone production. In women, zinc is necessary for the growth process of the egg and the proper function of estrogen. In men, zinc helps balance testosterone levels and may help to boost the libido.
Zinc deficiency can lead to a lower level of insulin sensitivity and greater intolerance to glucose. Maintaining good zinc levels may help patients suffering from diabetes and even help to prevent the development of diabetes.
Brain Health & Alzheimer’s
Zinc helps the body to detoxify metals and remove high levels of minerals like iron from the brain. This process is necessary to maintain healthy brain tissue and good brain function and may play a significant role in reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Zinc may play a role in treating attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Studies show that children suffering from ADHD generally have notably lower zinc levels than those that do not.