Monday, February 4, 2008

Zinc - Stimulating Your Immune System

Zinc has been clearly demonstrated to be great for enabling your immune system to fight infections. Many people these days take zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold. Zinc is essential for over 100 different enzymes in your body to function properly, and is necessary for normal growth and men?s health. We don?t need much zinc and severe zinc deficiency is not very common, but evidence suggests that, especially as we get older, many of us could benefit from a little extra.

What do you need zinc for?

For growth

Children and teenagers need adequate zinc for growth and development. Zinc deficiency is rare in the U.S. since zinc is often found in foods high in protein which are common in the American diet.

For men
Zinc is essential for men?s health. Men need zinc to produce testosterone and other male hormones, and also to produce healthy sperm. Studies have claimed that even relatively mild zinc deficiency can lead to a reduced sperm count. Zinc may also be important in preventing prostate problems, but this is controversial and research is ongoing into this potential role.

For healing
Getting enough zinc can help your body heal itself. If you are scheduled for surgery, you should consider talking to your doctor about whether you should consider zinc supplements. If you are getting enough zinc in your diet, there is probably little benefit in taking a supplement, but if you are not getting enough it, may help reduce your recovery time.

For skin, nails and hair
Zinc is necessary for healthy skin, nails and hair. A lack of zinc in your diet may lead to skin irritations and rashes. Some topical creams containing zinc may be useful for the treatment of acne, but the evidence seems to suggest that taking extra dietary zinc does nothing to prevent acne.

Lozenges for fighting colds
Getting an adequate amount of zinc is essential for your immune system to function properly. Many people have found that zinc is great for helping you get over the effects of the common cold. Taking zinc lozenges can help you get over a cold quicker and make the symptoms less severe. The white blood cells of your immune system need zinc and taking extra when you have an infection gives them a welcome boost.

For when you have a cold, the best zinc lozenges contain zinc gluconate with glycine. Every two hours or so, let one lozenge dissolve in your mouth slowly. Adults should not take more than 12 a day and children no more than 6. You should only take zinc lozenges for a day or two. Taking zinc supplements won?t have the same effect as the lozenges for when you have a cold.

Since it has been known for some time that zinc is beneficial for your immune system, why have zinc lozenges only become available in recent years? The main reason is that only recently was anyone able to find a way to make them taste even remotely palatable. Zinc compounds taste awful, but the lozenges containing zinc gluconate with glycine are not bad tasting at all. If you take a lot of zinc you may find it affects your sense of taste and smell which will return within a few days after you stop taking the zinc.

How much do you need?
The recommended daily amounts of zinc are:

Men 15 mg
Women 12 mg
Pregnant women 15 mg
Nursing women 19 mg
Infants 5 mg
Children Ages 1-10 10 mg

Getting your zinc
It can be quite difficult to know how much zinc you are getting and that is because the amount of zinc varies between different foods, and the amount we absorb differs between different foods.

The foods with the most zinc include: oysters, whole grain products, lean meats, poultry, and vegetables. You absorb zinc much better from animal products than you do from plants and grains.

Zinc supplements
For most people, it is reasonable to assume that your diet is giving you the minimum required amount of zinc and it is wise to consider getting extra in the form of a supplement. For may people getting 15-30 mg extra per day is wise and for children an extra 10 mg per day. The best way to get your zinc is in a balanced formula containing copper. There are many different forms to choose from, but the best ones include zinc gluconate, zinc citrate and zinc picolinate.

Zinc deficiency
Severe zinc deficiency is not very common in developed countries. Symptoms of severe deficiency are retarded growth; lack of appetite; poor wound healing; taste, smell and vision problems; susceptibility to infection; mental slowness and skin problems.

Mild zinc deficiency is common in select sections of the population, the largest group being elderly. As we age our immune system performs less well and there is evidence which suggests that some of this drop off in function may be mitigated by getting enough dietary zinc. Also, people following vegetarian diets should ensure they are getting enough zinc.


  • Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system
  • Zinc lozenges can help you fight the common cold
  • There are over 200 enzymes which need zinc to function properly
  • Male fertility can be enhanced by zinc
  • Zinc is necessary for healthy skin, hair and nails
  • The RDA for zinc is 15 mg for adult men and 12 mg for women
  • People should consider a zinc supplement to ensure they are getting enough
  • People at risk for deficiency such as the elderly or vegetarians
  • The best food sources of zinc are lean meats and poultry, grains, beans and vegetables

No comments: