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What is Zinc?

Zinc is the most common trace element in the body other than iron. Every cell in your body requires zinc for chemical reactions. Zinc’s role in the body is vital, as it regulates the immune system and aids in maintaining optimal health. Zinc is critical for normal development along with the cell function neutrophils and other “natural killer cells” that aid immunity[1].

Zinc Uses and Benefits

Zinc benefits the body in myriad ways, affecting virtually every bodily function. Zinc benefits include:

  • Boosting the immune system: Zinc is beneficial for the immune system because it is involved in the replication of DNA. It also plays a vital role in the division of cells[2].
  • Improving appetite: Plasma levels of zinc can affect your appetite and the way your food tastes. Zinc deficiency has been linked to anorexia which can benefit from zinc supplementation[3].
  • Boosting brain power: Zinc is found in the vesicles of the area of the brain known as the hippocampus. Zinc is important for this area of the brain because it helps with its role in thinking skills and memory retention[4].
  • Healing skin: Zinc is vital for healthy, young looking skin. Zinc oxide is a topical skin cream which can be used to relieve the discomfort of itchy rashes, dry skin, dermatitis, chilblains and chapped lips. The water-based solution, zinc sulfate, has also been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of minor burns, acne and cold sores[5].
  • Hair growth: Zinc helps support healthy hair growth by helping maintain the healthy production of cells and regulating hormones.
  • Improving mood: Zinc abnormalities have also been shown to be present in people with mood disorders. Zinc sulfate supplements can reduce fatigue, relieve mood swings and prevent disruptions in your appetite[6].
  • Thwarting the common cold: Regular zinc supplementation can reduce odds of catching colds if taken for 5 months. If cold symptoms begin, zinc supplementation can lower symptom length and severity[7].

Zinc Deficiency

Signs of zinc deficiency include stunted growth, acne, thinning hair, diarrhea, eye and skin lesions, and loss of appetite. There is also some indication that delayed wound healing, weight loss, abnormalities in the sense of taste, and mental exhaustion are also symptoms of zinc deficiency. It is important to note that copper intake can deplete zinc. This can be seen in households with copper plumbing which leaches copper[8]. In the modern world, zinc deficiency is often linked to copper in the water supply.

Natural Zinc Sources

You can obtain zinc from natural sources such as:

  • Legumes
  • Lean meats
  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Oysters
  • Soy products
  • Nuts
  • Watermelon
  • Wheat germ

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc is:

  • Children 9-13 years: 8mg/day
  • Adolescents 14-18 years: 11mg/day
  • Adult men: 11mg/day
  • Adult women: 8mg/day
  • Pregnant women: 1mg/day
  • Breastfeeding: 13mg/day[9]

Zinc Side Effects

The tolerable upper limit of zinc is 40mg per day. In some people, excessive zinc consumption may cause side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, upset stomach, and a metallic taste in the mouth[10]

Zinc Overdose

High doses of zinc – up to 300mg – can cause toxicity. Symptoms include nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Since high doses of zinc interfere with copper absorption, zinc overdoses will also result of copper deficiency[11]

Rarely, an allergic reaction to zinc may occur. Such reactions include facial, lip or throat swelling, difficulty breathing or breaking out in hives[12]. If you think you may have taken too much zinc, talk to your doctor.

What is the Best Form of Zinc?

The best form of zinc supplement you can take is one that has been chelated, such as zinc citrate or zinc gluconate. Elemental zinc is not readily absorbed by the body. Chelation is a process which adds an amino acid to the zinc. This enables the zinc supplement to be easily absorbed and metabolized by the body.

A study appearing in the Journal of Nutrition found that zinc oxide and zinc sulfate were equally well-absorbed by participants in the study, all of whom were women of reproductive age and consumed zinc added to test meals[13].

For topical use, choose zinc oxide. You’ll already find zinc oxide as a major ingredient in many diaper rash, acne treatments and sunscreen formulations. Zinc oxide will not irritate the skin, but zinc chloride in topical form may have that effect so it is not used in such preparations.

Zinc Supplements

Zinc is so important to human body function, but many people simply do not receive enough of it in their daily diet. That’s why zinc supplementation is essential. DrFormulas™ zinc supplements are designed for both general and specific health and wellness concerns. For example, Zinc is an important factor in DrFormulas™ HairOmega® 5000 mcg Biotin Gummies for Hair Growth. Zinc supports healthy hair growth by boosting the strength of the hair follicles and promoting the re-growth of thinning hair.

For those battling pimples and blackheads, there’s DrFormulas™ 50 mg Zinc Oxide and Chelated Zinc Citrate for Acne,  formulated for maximum bioavailability. Many people with acne suffer from zinc deficiency, and zinc supplementation may improve your skin’s appearance by as much as 50 percent. Once normal zinc levels are restored, your body is better able to combat C. acnes bacteria and lessen the inflammatory response leading to outbreaks and redness. Not only is zinc one of the most effective supplements for achieving a smooth and radiant complexion, it’s also one of the most cost-effective.

Zinc also aids in vitamin E absorption, another nutrient that helps reduce acne. By supporting Vitamin E absorption, zinc helps destroy the free radicals that can promote acne. For best results, take a zinc supplement with a meal or directly after eating. 

Topical Zinc

While doctors may prescribe antibiotics for acne treatment, bacteria may become resistant. That’s not the case with topical zinc – bacteria have not developed resistance to this essential trace element.