Zinc is an important nutrient for a wide variety of functions within your body. Why is this is so?
It plays several different roles in your body, including as a catalyst, helping with structural integrity and helping regulate different processes.
If you are ill or injured, zinc demands increase and it becomes important to make sure you have this sufficient nutrient supplies to meet the increased demand. This is because your body will redirect the zinc it has to areas where it is most needed.
Roles of Zinc
What exactly does zinc do in your body? It is an important component of a wide range of your body’s functions. The main areas where it is used include:
- The breakdown and absorption of your food as it is involved in the action of the enzymes that help with digestion
- Helps to promote your sense of taste
- Supports DNA replication and transcription
- Helps regulate and differentiate your cells as they grow
- Supports immune function as it helps activate your T-lymphocytes and increases the cytotoxicity of your natural killer cells
- Supports your metabolism and the breakdown of carbohydrates
- A cofactor for several of the antioxidants your body makes, helping with your defence against oxidative stress
- Helps support cardiovascular health
Deficiency and Dosage
When you are low in zinc, your body tells you in different ways.
You will often experience a loss of appetite and a poor sense of taste. You may get sick more easily as your immune function will be impaired. Additionally, you might develop scaling skin lesions if your zinc levels are low enough.
To keep your zinc levels from falling too low, it is recommended that men consume 14mg per day and women consume 8mg per day.
Zinc is often linked to protein, making it important for you to consume enough of this nutrient.
The best sources of this nutrient are meat, which contains 2-3g of per 100g. Plant foods are poorer sources.
If you are a vegetarian, breastfeeding, or pregnant, your zinc intake might need to be supplemented as you have higher needs.
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