Feeling a sniffle coming on? Try a zinc lozenge. Skin not up to par? Consider eating more foods that contain zinc or taking zinc supplements because chances are you’re not getting enough of this vital mineral — the USDA says that more than 70 percent of Americans do not get the recommended dietary allowance for zinc. But zinc is an important weapon in your battle to stay healthy, because it is a key element in boosting immunity and helping fight infections. Zinc can fight many conditions including:
Colds: A review of 13 trials published by the Cochrane Collaboration found that taking lozenges or syrups containing zinc within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms shortened colds by one day. The review also found that people who took zinc supplements tended to have milder symptoms. The review concluded that after a week, people taking zinc supplements had less than half the chance of still being sick compared to those who took a placebo.
Pneumonia: Normal levels of zinc in the elderly reduce their risk of developing pneumonia by 50 percent. A study of 600 nursing facility residents funded by the National Institute of Aging and the Agricultural Research Service found that many had low blood levels of zinc, but those patients whose levels were normal were half as likely to get pneumonia as those with low concentrations.
Cancer: Scientists at the University of Maryland found that zinc appears to suppress tumors of the most common form of deadly pancreatic cancer. They found a decrease in zinc levels in cells at the beginning stages of the cancer as well as at its advanced stages. Other studies suggest that zinc slows the development of prostate cancer cells.
Acne: An adequate amount of zinc is a requirement for healthy skin, and a deficiency may manifest as acne. Zinc controls the production of oil in the skin, and may also control some of the hormones responsible for acne. To reduce the effects of acne, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests taking a 30 mg tablet of zinc twice a day for a month, and then decreasing the dose to 30 mg daily.
Osteoporosis: Zinc deficiency is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Several studies have found that both older men and women with osteoporosis have low levels of zinc in their blood. Studies have shown that zinc stimulates bone formation and slows bone loss.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD): Among the tissues in the human body, the eyes contain the highest concentrations of zinc. It plays an important role in eye health, and recent studies have shown the association of zinc to age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Fertility: Adequate levels of zinc are necessary for reproduction in both men and women. Studies have shown that zinc insufficiency in men causes reduced sperm counts and abnormalities in the mobility of sperm. Sufficient zinc in women promotes cell division which is critical in the early stages of fetal development.
In addition, zinc helps keep your senses of smell and taste in tip-top shape. It is found in oysters, pecans, oats, and eggs, and can be purchased as a supplement. Dr. Russell Blaylock advises taking 30 mg of zinc daily to stimulate the body’s immune system.