The essential health benefits of Zinc in your diet
Zinc is an essential mineral that your body simply can’t live without. It’s also one of the most common elements in the Earth’s crust. It’s found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and in our soil.
Zinc is used in so many ways, both by our bodies and commercially. It’s used for coatings to prevent rust, used in dry cell batteries and it has the ability to be mixed with other metals to make alloys like brass and bronze. In fact, a zinc and copper alloy are used to make pennies in the United States. Zinc compounds are widely used to make paint, rubber, dyes, wood preservatives and ointments.
But our bodies use zinc in so many other crucial ways. From protecting our skin and hair to preventing prostate cancer, it’s clear that zinc is an important part of our diet and health. Keep reading to find out the health benefits of zinc and how to ensure you’re getting enough of it in your everyday life.
1. Improves Prostate Health
One of the most significant health benefits of zinc is the impact it can have on prostate health. Zinc is concentrated more highly in the prostate than in any other human tissue, and low levels of zinc in this gland relate to a higher risk for prostate cancer.
Healthcare practitioners use zinc in therapeutic ways to help reduce prostate size, and whole food zinc has shown greater results than isolated zinc or zinc supplements. Pumpkin seeds are especially good sources of zinc, and they help directly nourish the prostate gland while also ensuring that levels of testosterone remain at peak performance.
Bee pollen is an important food for men with enlarged prostate or prostatitis. In double-blind studies and long-term treatments, urological researchers reported that bee pollen reduced enlarged prostates in 53% of men with severe and chronic symptoms of prostatitis.
As well, many minerals are thought to be essential to good reproductive health and zinc is among them. Zinc may be important for male sexual health since it is found in very high levels in the seminal fluid, even though zinc intake may not have a direct effect on potency.
By chewing a handful of pumpkin seeds per day, you may be able to completely sidestep any prostate issues.
2. Improves Skin, Nail and Hair Health
Zinc is also a crucial vitamin for the health of your skin, hair and nails. Thinning hair, abnormal hair texture or colour, or hair loss can be a sign of zinc deficiency, as can pale white nails. Zinc is also used to help speed wound healing, so if you’re not getting enough zinc it could take longer for skin injuries to disappear.
If you have skin issues, a combination of vitamins C, E, beta carotene, and zinc are believed to heal damaged tissue. In fact, pregnant women often use zinc to help reduce stretch marks.
Learn more in Natural Remedies for Stretch Marks & Scars.
Zinc is also a natural sunscreen that can help protect your skin when applied topically. While getting sun exposure is both necessary and healthy to maintain vitamin D levels, keep you healthy, and keep you happy, too much of a good thing can result in painful burns. Commercial sunscreens are chock full of chemicals and toxic ingredients that do more harm than good, so if you have to be outside for much longer than your skin can handle, zinc is a great, healthy option.
For a natural, chemical-free sunscreen, try the Sun Loves Me for non-toxic, hydrating sun protection with zinc.
Learn more in Sunscreen: Prevent or Cause Cancer?
3. Increases Bone Density
Another of the health benefits of zinc is designed especially for older men, but can benefit everyone. Making magnesium and zinc-rich foods, such as pumpkin seeds, a regular part of our healthy way of eating is incredibly beneficial for bone mineral density.
Although osteoporosis is often thought to be a disease for which postmenopausal women are at highest risk, it is also a potential problem for older men. Almost 30% of hip fractures occur in men, and 1 in 8 men over age 50 will have an osteoporotic fracture. A study of almost 400 men ranging in age from 45-92 that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a clear correlation between low dietary intake of magnesium and zinc, low blood levels of the trace mineral, and osteoporosis at the hip and spine.
It’s clear that getting enough zinc is important to help protect your bone density as you age, so that you can prevent debilitating fractures and injuries.
Choose Whole Foods Over Supplements
Like anything else, whole food is better than any supplement money can buy. This is particularly true with zinc, because zinc supplements in high doses can interfere with the absorption of calcium and copper, and can compromise the heart function. It’s better for your health and better to reap the health benefits of zinc by consuming them from fresh, whole foods.
Some great plant-based sources of zinc include:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Soy Beans
- Wheat germ
- Real maple syrup
- Whole grains
- Bee pollen
Try to eat at least one high zinc food per day to ensure you’re getting enough from your diet. It’s hard to overdo the zinc intake when you’re getting it from natural, whole foods, so if you’re following a plant-based diet it’s likely you’re getting as much zinc as you need everyday.
Lean more in The Truth About Vitamin Supplements.
The health benefits of zinc don’t end there. In fact, there are even more reasons you should be getting plenty of zinc that are worth mentioning and that can affect anyone at any age.
Other Health Benefits of Zinc:
- Body odour could be a sign you’re not getting enough zinc in your diet
- Is essential for digestion and metabolism
- Can improve sex drive and the health of reproductive organs
- Reduces the frequency and severity of herpes outbreaks, especially when applied topically to lesions
- Boosts immune function; a deficiency in zinc can make you more susceptible to illness and disease
- Zinc deficiency can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and other permanent conditions
- Helps promote good eyesight
Zinc is an essential nutrient that your body can’t produce or store, which means you need to ensure you consume enough zinc from your diet. Severe zinc deficiency is quite rare, but it’s important to avoid zinc deficiency at all costs as it can quickly start to affect your overall health. You might have zinc deficiency if you’re noticing hair loss, diarrhoea, dry skin, slow healing, lowered immunity, decreased appetite, and mood swings.
The health benefits of zinc are too many to count; after all, as an essential nutrient, it helps almost every part of your body function correctly from wound healing to immune function, growth and development and much more.
Tolman Self Care.