Zinc has not always been known for its medicinal uses, but was often used in metal works long before its benefits were known. In the first century (A.D.) Zinc was used to make brass by the Romans in the era of Augustus. In 14th century India, zinc was first recognized as a metal. ZnO, as we know it today, was created as a byproduct during the process of melting metals. Initially a remedy for sore eyes, this byproduct was not recognized as the immune system booster we know today.
The melting technique soon spread to China, sometime in the 1600s or the 1700s. There, it was continued in the use of brass making. By 1789, those in Europe were importing brass from and zinc from China, and it soon earned its place on the periodic table.
With the age of new technology, zinc soon found its way into surge protecting components, and is largely responsible for the reliability of surge protectors today. In addition, it became a staple component in sunscreen, as well an itching creams and ointments for pain. Today, zinc is mined in 50 countries across the globe, a majority of which is found in zinc mines.
What it Does
Zinc has been shown to improve disease resistance, promote the healing of wounds, aid digestion, heal reproductive issues, control diabetes, and enhance senses such as taste and smell. In fact, it is estimated that one third of the world is zinc deficient and may be unaware. Those with deficiencies may notice impaired neurological function, stunted growth, suppressed or overactive immunity, and delayed healing of wounds, loss of hair and appetite, and dermatitis. Maintaining a healthy diet with zinc, or supplementing with zinc products, is a simple and helpful way to prevent these issues, which may become severe or life threatening.
While many studies have been done concerning zinc, findings appear to be somewhat mixed. For example, a study in India at the Department of Pediatrics at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and research, findings supported that zinc decreased the duration of the common cold among over 1000 participants, but was not found to reduce the severity of colds. The study, performed in 2013, showed that when taken within 24 hours of symptoms, zinc reduced the duration of the common cold on average of a full day. In addition, findings revealed that those who took zinc were less likely to miss school or work, and also less likely to be prescribed antibiotics. In an age when antibiotic resistance is a real concern for many, zinc may be a great supplement to further explore.
The Mayo Clinic summarized an analysis of several studies done regarding zinc, and they concluded that zinc is likely successful in trials due to its effect against the rhinovirus. Because the rhinovirus is what causes most common colds, preventing its multiplication can essentially stop the virus from lodging in mucous membranes, such as the throat and nose. While the review ends with Mayo clinic encouraging patients to consult their doctors regarding zinc due to permanent side effects experienced using zinc sprays, the analysis also noted that zinc was found to reduce the number of overall common cold occurrences in a year.
In the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, authors Maret and Sandstead reviewed the common requirements of zinc in the body. Published in 2006, the research states that about 25% of the world’s population is zinc deficient. With this information in mind, one can conclude that those with deficiencies would see more significant improvement in function when adding a zinc supplement. For example, those deficient in zinc may notice decreased sex drive, suppressed immunity, heart issues and other mental and physical ailments.
Another study published in 2012 brought attention to how common zinc deficiency is, and how it has largely been overlooked for the past 50 years. Wayne State University School of Medicine published the discovery with the Department of Oncology and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center. The study estimates that 2 billion people worldwide are deficient, and rely mostly on their diets to maintain healthy zinc levels. In impoverished areas, this makes it even more difficult as food choices are limited. The study states that infants with diarrhea, sickle cell disease, common colds and Wilson’s disease found relief with zinc, possibly due to a previous deficiency.
Finally, Science Daily, a website focusing on scientific findings, stressed the importance of maintaining healthy zinc levels, whether through diet or supplementation. They maintain that satisfactory levels are needed for the immune system to properly function, to prevent unnecessary inflammation and even repair DNA.
Zinc is often found in daily multivitamins, so before adding it to one’s regimen, caution should be taken that one is not doubling the dose by accident. Too much zinc can be harmful, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions on any zinc supplements before adding to a routine. Also, before adding this supplement, one should ensure no foods are eaten that deter zinc absorption. Protein, bran, coffee, phytates, calcium or phosphorus can inhibit absorption.
Zinc is available in many forms to assist with many ailments, and not all of them are consumed. For example, zinc oxide is used in sun block and other forms of zinc may be topical and of great use for cold sores and other skin conditions. The best absorbed zincs for supplemental purposes are zinc citrate, zinc acetate, zinc picolinate.
Zinc is naturally occurring in many of the following items: red meats, fortified cereals, seafood and whole grains. For those concerned with side effects from too much zinc, one should be stay aware if there is abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, nausea, drowsiness or vomiting, and contact a doctor while stopping supplements. Check out Body Comp Blueprint for more alternative health and fitness tips, guides, and reviews.
The recommended daily dosage is 15 mg, although it is common and healthy for supplements to be 30 mg in order to make up for lacking diets. Zinc should always be taken with a meal, and is most ideal in the morning, as it can lead to insomnia due to the boost of energy it often creates.
Rohit Verma is a passionate blogger who has been blogging since 2009. Apart from blogging, he spent most of time in writing content for websites. By now he has finished numerous ghost writing and creative content writing projects. He enjoys writing most on Health and Fitness topics for bodycompblueprint.com.