Health / 16.12.2014

What it does… zinc

By Healthy Magazine
Is your skin and hair dry and brittle? Keep getting infections? Lost your sex drive? Zinc is essential to all these


What is it?

An trace mineral essential for immune function; healthy skin, eyes and nails; mental alertness; production of stress hormones, insulin and sex hormones.

What does it do?

Fights infection and heals wounds: A review of 18 studies, involving almost 1,800 participants, found zinc reduced the duration of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of symptom onset.

Improves skin, hair and nails: It may also help improve adult acne, according to a Swedish study.

Boosts libido: It can also improve sexual performance according to a study in the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences.

Helps prevent type 2 diabetes: According to many studies, adequate intake can prevent insulin resistance, a form of pre-diabetes.

Controls stress hormones: In one study, just 25-50mg of zinc prompted a marked fall in cortisol in healthy volunteers who had undergone an extreme exercise stress test.

Improves fertility: Adequate levels help regulate ovulation and maturation of eggs.

When do I need it?

Throughout life. As zinc affects taste and smell, check your levels by putting 1-2 teaspoons of zinc sulfate in a glass and sip it. If it tastes like water, you are moderately deficient in zinc; if it tastes disgusting with a metallic taste, your levels are adequate.

How do I get it?

Eat: Good sources of zinc include lean red meat, liver, shellfish (especially oysters), egg yolks, dairy products, wholegrain cereals and pulses.

Take: a supplement of no more than 25mg a day. Combine with vitamin C for greater protection against colds.

Be careful if…

Avoid if you have liver damage or an intestinal disorder. High doses upset absorption of some minerals and vitamins.