5 Powerful Zinc Benefits, Including Fighting Cancer
Zinc is needed in small amounts every day in order to maintain health and perform important functions each day. Zinc benefits the body in many ways: helps with hormone production, growth and repairment; improves immunity and facilitates digestion. Zinc benefits also include its ability to act as an anti-inflammatory agent, therefore zinc may have significant therapeutic benefits for several common, chronic diseases like fighting cancer or reversing heart disease. Zinc is actually present within all bodily tissue and needed for healthy cell division. It acts like an antioxidant within the body, fighting free-radical damage and slow the aging process. Zinc also has a big impact on hormonal balance, so for this reason, even a small zinc deficiency can result in an increased risk for infertility or diabetes.
According to researchers at the Department of Dermatology at the University of California,
zinc plays an essential role in numerous biochemical pathways: organ systems, including the integumentary, gastrointestinal, central nervous system, immune, skeletal, and reproductive systems… Zinc deficiency results in dysfunction of both humoral and cell-mediated immunity and increases the susceptibility to infection.
How Much Do We Need to Experience These Zinc Benefits?
According to the USDA, the dietary reference intakes for zinc below are based on age and gender:
0–6 months: 2 milligrams/day
7–12 months: 3 milligrams/day
1–3 years: 3 milligrams/day
4–8 years: 5 milligrams/day
9 –13 years: 8 milligrams/day
Adolescents and adults:
Males age 14 and over: 11 milligrams/day
Females age 14 to 18 years: 9 milligrams/day
Females age 19 and over: 8 milligrams/day
Zinc is usually available in various forms, including lozenges, syrups, gels and capsules. Zinc is also found in most multivitamin and mineral supplements. These supplements can contain zinc in the form of zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate or zinc acetate. As of now, all are believed to work in very similar ways so one type is not thought to be superior over the others.
1. Increases Immunity and Fights Colds
Zinc is often taken as a natural over-the-counter remedy for fighting colds and symptoms of illnesses. When taken for at least five months, zinc may reduce your risk of becoming sick with the common cold, plus supplementing once you already feel sick can speed up the healing process.
Research shows that zinc can interfere with the molecular process that causes mucus and bacteria to build within the nasal passages. Ionic zinc, based on its electrical charge, has the ability to exert an antiviral effect by attaching to receptors in nasal epithelial cells and blocking their effects. (5)
Research conducted by the Medical Education Center of Chandigarh India found that when zinc was administered within 24 hours of onset of cold-related symptoms, the duration of symptoms was significantly reduced compared to the control group that didn’t supplement with zinc. Fewer patients in the zinc group had cold-related symptoms five and seven days after experiencing the first symptoms compared to those who did not take zinc. (6)
2. Acts as a Powerful Antioxidant that May Help Fight Cancer
Zinc is an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent, helping fight oxidative stress and decrease the chance for disease development, including as a natural cancer treatment. Especially in elderly patients, zinc benefits include its ability to support support healthy cell division, preventing cancerous cell mutation and stunting tumor growth.
When researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of Michigan studied potential zinc benefits from zinc supplementation on 50 adults, they found that levels of oxidative stress markers were significantly lower in the zinc-supplemented group than in the placebo group. Those with lower zinc levels who didn’t take supplements had higher levels of inflammatory cytokines, higher plasma oxidative stress markers and endothelial cell adhesion molecules. After zinc supplementation, the incidence of illness-related side effects and infections was also significantly lower in the zinc-supplemented group, another example of zinc’s immune-boosting abilities. (7)
3. Balances Hormones
Zinc benefits hormonal health and fertility because it plays an important role in hormone production, including increasing testosterone naturally, which has very widespread roles in both men and women. Zinc also impacts female sex hormones and is even involved in the creation and release of eggs within and from the ovaries.
Zinc is needed for the production of estrogen and progesterone in women, which both support reproductive health. Either too high or too low levels of estrogens can cause problems with menstruation, mood swings, early menopause, infertility and possibly even increase the risk for certain cancers.
4. Supports Liver Health
Supplementing with zinc is shown to reduce the incidence of infection and correlated with lower levels of liver damage. Zinc can help with a liver cleanse to reduce inflammation in the liver, reduces free radical damage, helps with nutrient absorption and allows for proper waste elimination.
5. Helps with Muscle Growth and Repair
Zinc plays a crucial role in cell division and cell growth, so zinc benefits muscle repairment and growth by making it possible for the body to heal itself and maintain strength in the muscular and skeletal systems. Zinc also helps with the release of testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), all of which build muscle mass and a healthy metabolism.
Zinc benefits muscle mass because it helps increase the amount of testosterone the body is able to produce following exercise — especially weight-training and HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training) — because it enhances the conversion rate of androstenedione to testosterone.