Every year during cold and flu season you hear about the benefits of zinc. Do you know that zinc is a trace mineral crucial for several body functions? Growing children need zinc. Now, for a lot of people, worrying about zinc levels aren’t important — they get plenty through the food they eat.
But how do you know if you’re suffering from a zinc deficiency? What are the symptoms? If you up your zinc intake, can you overcome deficiency? Read on to find out, and if you’re concerned about a zinc deficiency, speak to your doctor before making big changes on your own. It can be a serious issue.
What is the Role of Zinc Levels in Health and Wellness?
Zinc plays a major role in immunity. It supports the system that transports your white blood cells to your heart. But that’s not all. Zinc acts as an antioxidant and helps decrease damage caused by free radicals. Zinc also helps support skin health and general immunity.1
But what is zinc, really? Contrary to popular belief, zinc is not a vitamin. It’s a mineral, like magnesium or iron.
Zinc is an essential trace element, to be exact. Essential trace elements are required for survival. Without the proper zinc concentrations, your body can’t perform some of the biological tasks that keep you alive.2
What are the Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency?
You can see why zinc intake is important. When your body’s serum zinc levels get low, it’s called zinc deficiency. If you’re not getting enough zinc, or having problems with zinc absorption, it could affect the following systems:
- Gastrointestinal system
- Central nervous system
- Immune system
- Skeletal system
- Reproductive system
A depleted zinc status may also result in the decreased function of white blood cells.3,4 If you are worried about a possible zinc deficiency, reach out to your doctor and discuss the possibility of zinc dietary supplements.
Do Zinc Supplements Hinder Calcium Absorption?
You may have read that zinc supplementation affects the absorption of other vitamins or nutrients, like calcium. The thing is, calcium and zinc do actually compete for common absorption sites within your body.
But a recent study shows with zinc supplementation, absorption of calcium is lower if calcium intake is also low. Yet, if you’re getting at 800 milligrams of calcium each day, zinc supplementation won’t affect calcium absorption.
Upping Your Zinc Levels Through Supplementation — In Review
Bottom line: study your zinc levels. If you have a zinc deficiency, it’s okay to increase your zinc intake. But speak to your doctor before you do. And keep in mind, some people may have zinc allergies.
If you are deficient in zinc, try zinc picolinate, zinc sulfate, or zinc gluconate supplementation. They may help strengthen your immune system and help your body fight free radicals.
When it comes to the right levels of vitamins and minerals, make sure you get in the zinc zone!
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