Zinc is thought to be an essential nutrient that is involved in many roles in the body, such as sexual health, immune support, skin health and growth and development. The body doesn’t need a lot of zinc to work efficiently – 7mg a day for women and 9.5mg for men – but it is unable to produce the nutrient naturally, meaning we have obtain it through our diet and/or supplements.
Why do we need zinc?
Zinc supports the proper function of the body in numerous ways, including:
It is necessary for the function of immune cells and cell signalling, and a deficiency in zinc could lead to a weakened immune system. Research shows supplementing with zinc could reduce the length of the common cold by 33%, whilst other studies show it may significantly reduce the risk of infections and promote immune response in older adults.
Men’s Sexual Health
Zinc is vital in the production of testosterone in the male body; therefore a deficiency in the nutrient could lead to a number of sexual health problems in men – such as erectile dysfunction and low libido. There have been a number of studies into the link between zinc deficiency and low testosterone levels. One study in particular found that when fed a diet that was very low in zinc that led them to a zinc deficiency, the testosterone levels in young men had decreased significantly by almost 75% after a 20 week period. The same study also examined what happened when elderly men increased their zinc intake. It concluded that the testosterone levels of the elderly almost doubled, showing that zinc really has a powerful impact on the production of testosterone in men.
A more recent study has also found that the sense of smell could impact the libido, particularly in young men. One of the symptoms of zinc deficiency is a reduced sense of smell, meaning that this could also affect the libido.
The mineral is important for the proper healing of wounds, as it plays a vital role in collagen synthesis, immune function and inflammatory response. Research has found that supplementing with zinc can improve the speed in which wounds heal.
Studies have also found that zinc can help to treat acne. It has been found to inhibit the growth of P. acnes bacteria, suppress oily glands and reduce inflammation.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency:
Zinc deficiency symptoms can vary depending of severity of the deficiency. Some of these symptoms may include:
*Loss of appetite
*Loss of weight
*Loss of energy
*Loss or change of eyesight, taste or smell
*Being more prone to colds, coughs and chest infections.