Writing about supplements for so many years, I’ve been guilty of overlooking some of the more basic building blocks of our diet. We’ve all seen the food labels, and they call these Essential Vitamins and Minerals because they’re just that: the essence of what we need.
One of those Minerals is Zinc, and astute supplement customers have seen it in all of the best T-Boosters. The science behind putting Zinc into those is as solid as it gets. But there’s much, much more to Zinc, and the benefits of taking it every day range from helping us get over a cold to literally helping our genetics express themselves as we grow.
What You Need to Know
As I’ve alluded to a few times, Zinc provide crucial functions in the Immune System. For starters, without Zinc we cannot develop our Thymus, which is the organ that makes our T-Cells. Without that, there is quite literally no way to fight any infections, viruses, or disease.
It’s for this very reason that medical experts recommend taking a Zinc supplement within 24 hours of cold symptoms. It really can reduce not only the severity of your symptoms, but even how long you have the cold and how contagious you are.
Zinc’s benefits to our immune system continue well after our T-Cells are made, though. As we’ll see, proper Zinc supplementation helps our systems combat much more than the common cold.
Healing from Cuts
Zinc also plays a critical part in helping us heal from wounds. Later we’ll see how it can help us assemble amino acids into functioning protein, and in recovering from a cut this means rebuilding skin, collagen in joints, and even repairing muscle faster. Not to mention that its boosts to our Immune System keep our wounds from developing infections that can delay healing.
Subsequent to its uses in wound healing, Zinc can also help prevent the inflammation of hair follicles that results in Acne. In fact, dermatology trials have demonstrated that Zinc can actively diminish Acne, not to mention it can help reduce the scars from large breakouts.
Because our Immune System is partly in charge of protecting cells from damage, it makes sense that Zinc can help our eyes stay healthy as we age. But the numbers for how well it works are pretty astounding. It turns out that taking Zinc can lower the risk of eyesight loss by 25% in patients dealing with age-related macular degeneration.
If you do happen to suffer from this universal bane, it’s conventional wisdom to hydrate, and keep up on electrolytes. But few people know that both of these things are next to useless if you don’t have enough Zinc. That’s because without this mineral our bodies have trouble taking water and other minerals through the cell walls around our organs and tissues.
Diabetes, types I and II, are world leading causes in morbidity and death. And it turns out Zinc, here too, can help. One of the first ways is by providing our Pancreas with one of its primary nutrient building blocks. Without Zinc our Pancreas can’t produce insulin, and that’s when our blood sugar can skyrocket.
In addition to that, a literature review of over a dozen clinical trials and medical studies concluded without equivocation that Zinc supplementation improves blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and all aspects of Diabetes.
While the mechanisms of this benefit aren’t as well understood as others in this article, what is known is that Zinc significantly lowers LDL (“bad” cholesterol) across the board. In fact, this has held true across 17 studies with these results, in addition to 19 studies showing Zinc can lower the level of triglycerides in our blood.
For some of my readers, you’ve known this section was coming. Improving Testosterone is one of the more widely publicized benefits of Zinc. In fact, we’ve already devoted a whole article to the very subject, and the bottom line is this: taking Zinc, especially in later years, greatly increases Testosterone levels.
What’s more, it increases actual Testosterone production, which means the benefits aren’t merely superficial. They can even increase fertility.
In the very next section we’ll discuss how Zinc is one of the fundamental building blocks that help our bodies unzip from DNA into full grown living beings. Part of that is also what makes Zinc important for healthy sperm production. Not only does it help men produce more, but also more healthy sperm, making for better fertility, especially later in life.
Building Blocks of Life
As we’ve already seen, many of the benefits of Zinc come down to two things: how our genes and DNA are expressed and how our bodies break down protein.
Genetics and DNA
Zinc binds to certain receptors in our cells, allowing the mRNA (the “messengers” of our genetic code) to latch onto the cells that need to “express” them (decode and translate them). Essentially, the process goes like this:
A limb needs to grow. mRNA from our cells find and attach to Zinc on bone cells. This mRNA then tells the genetic code in the bone responsible for growth to “express,” thereby triggering the growth of bone.
This process is often described as “transcription and translation,” and Zinc has been proven time and again to be absolutely necessary for it to take place.
A great many nutrients are broken down in our digestive tract by compounds called enzymes. These powerful little chemicals, for instance, take the full piece of chicken or tomato we eat, and dismantle it into the molecules our body can directly absorb into the blood, and then absorb into the tissues that need them.
In particular, the proteins we eat are largely not the proteins our body can use. When we eat a piece of beef we don’t simply graft it onto our aching muscles after a workout. Rather, enzymes tear the beef down into individual amino acids, and then our body reassembles them in the correct proportions our cell tissues require for a particular need–repair this muscle with Combination A, for instance, repair this skin with Combination B.
Now that the chemistry is out of the way, we come to Zinc. Zinc is so important for the synthesis of proteins in our body that many of them have been dubbed Zinc Proteins, which cannot be processed any other way than with Zinc.
This protein synthesis and above cellular transcription are largely responsible for all of the other benefits we discussed, as well as having direct benefits of their own.
Requirements and Sources
Now that we’ve talked up Zinc’s importance, you may be wondering how much you need, and where you can get it. While supplements like T-Boosters are a popular options, you can also get what you need from your diet, though some options (like oysters) may not appeal to everyone’s taste (or wallet).
11 mg / Day
8.9 mg / Day
Sources of Zinc
Serving Size (oz)
Mg of Zinc
I nearly can’t say enough good things about Zinc. In truth, it’s as close to a wonder nutrient as we’re likely to get. And if the amount of food you’d need to eat to get your 11 or 9 mg a day seems daunting, don’t forget that there are dozens of high-quality supplements available. Just make sure you’re getting enough, one way or the other.