In this article we will address the great health benefits of zinc for our bodies. The immune system protects us from invading strangers like a reliable guard. A strong healthy body is able to cope with viruses and bacteria on its own, but unfavorable ecology, malnutrition, deficiency of vitamins and minerals weaken the immune system, and it begins to falter. One of the most important trace elements for the immune system is zinc. Here we will address what properties it has, and how it can help our body.
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Health Benefits of Zinc
Zinc is a trace element necessary for health that performs several functions:
- it participates in the metabolism of vitamin E,
- contributes to the normal production of male sex hormones, and
- is needed to maintain the activity of immune system cells.
Zinc deficiency can cause many diseases, including diseases associated with reduced immunity. So, let us tell you more about the healthy benefits of zinc and how it affects the human immune system.
#1: Increases the production of interferon-gamma
When viruses, bacteria, and other foreign microorganisms enter the body, interferon proteins are the first to defend it. When the production of interferons is reduced, viruses easily penetrate the cells and quickly infect the entire body. Taking drugs containing zinc promotes the production of interferons-gamma, thereby reducing the likelihood of infection, and if it does occur, the disease proceeds in a milder form.
#2: Stops the spread of the virus
Penetrating into the cell, the virus turns it into a kind of “copier“. What does it mean? In simple terms, an infected cell begins to create new unhealthy cells that are its exact copy. Thus, the “viral information” spreads more and more, and as a result, the whole organism becomes ill. Zinc essentially turns off this mechanism, and the spread of infection is inhibited at the stage of infection.
#3: Protects lymphocytes from destruction
Lymphocytes are among the first cells of the immune system to recognize foreign agents. They send a signal to other cells and trigger defense mechanisms. With a low level of lymphocytes, it becomes easier for viruses to attack and spread throughout the body, and vice versa. Zinc protects lymphocytes from destruction, thereby complicating the task of viruses.
#4: Stimulates the work of the thymus gland
The thymus gland is located in the upper part of the chest and is responsible for the maturation, differentiation, and immunological “training” of T-lymphocytes that recognize and neutralize viruses. Severe zinc deficiency leads to atrophy of the thymus gland and the immune system ceases to function fully.
#5: Triggers a signal for the self-destruction of viral cells
Zinc is needed not only by our body, but also by the viruses themselves with the only “but” – a high level of zinc destroys viral particles, and they die before they can spread throughout the body.
As you can see, zinc is a very important trace element for the immune system, and its role cannot be overestimated. It enters the body with food, primarily with fish and seafood, beef, lamb, beef liver, and eggs. Unfortunately, the diet of modern man is poor in zinc. Some eat fast food, others are on diets, and all this is malnutrition, in which there are few essential trace elements. You can compensate for zinc deficiency with the help of dietary supplements, which include this trace element.
What Is The Best Form Of Zinc To Take?
Manufacturers produce zinc in various forms, but the most bioavailable at the moment is the chelated form, which is formed when a trace element is combined with an amino acid molecule. The resulting organic compound does not require any additional biochemical transformations and is ready for absorption by the human body. Zinc chelate is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and, unlike other forms, does not cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and stool disorders. It is because of the ease of absorption and the absence of negative reactions that the chelate form has become popular in the USA and Europe.
There is a fairly large list of products that include this element. These include:
- Zinc supplements
- shellfish (oysters, crabs, lobsters, mussels);
- meat (pork, lamb, beef, chicken, turkey) and eggs;
- legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans);
- nuts of various kinds and pumpkin seeds;
- whole grains (quinoa, oats, brown rice);
- some vegetables (beets, cabbage, asparagus, peas); and
- dairy products (cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk).
The human body quickly and easily absorbs zinc from animal products. Most of it is found in oysters.
The bioavailability of zinc in cereals is somewhat limited due to phytates. These are plant compounds that slow down the absorption of the substance in question. You can increase the bioavailability of Zinc in plant foods with water, namely by soaking legumes or grains for a couple of hours in water.
Daily Intake Of Zinc
So, how much should be consumed so that there is no deficiency? Scientists recommend taking zinc in the following quantities:
- 11 mg – men over 19; and
- 8 mg – women over 19 years old.
The maximum daily intake is 40 mg of zinc. Exceeding this dose causes side effects.