There are two types of minerals which play important roles within many of the body’s functions. These inorganic substances fall into two categories; one of which is major or macrominerals and the other of which is equally important, although consumed in smaller amounts, is known as trace minerals. Both of these groups are important for the body, and as mentioned, the body’s functions.
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Macro or major minerals include potassium, sodium, chloride, phosphorous, calcium, sulfur and magnesium. While trace minerals include zinc, copper, fluoride, iron and iodine. Each mineral has an important purpose in your body’s overall health.
Do I Need Zinc?
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is normally received through the diet. Zinc is naturally available in the following foods: oysters, cheese, legumes, green beans, mushrooms, red meat, fish, and poultry. Deficiency of zinc is rare but may occur in the elderly, alcoholics, and people with anorexia. This essential trace mineral is found in every human cell. Zinc is essential for healthy growth and development, a strong immune response, wound healing, reproduction and optimal functioning of the nervous system. Without a sufficient supply of zinc at a cellular level, essential chemical reactions cannot take place and cells are vulnerable to damage.
Who Needs Zinc Supplements?
A lack of zinc in your diet can lead to a deficiency of this essential trace element. Vegetarians and vegans, and those with malabsorption syndromes such as Crohn’s disease can be susceptible to zinc deficiency because plant-based zinc is less easily absorbed than the zinc found in red meat, poultry and fish. In addition, the high levels of phytic acid found in grains and legumes can interfere with zinc absorption. Supplementation with zinc may have some health benefits. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, doctors often recommend that women increase their intake of zinc because the body diverts available zinc to meet the needs of the developing baby or to produce nutrient-rich breast milk.
Adults aged 65 or over may find that their bodies struggle to absorb sufficient zinc from dietary sources. Absorption of zinc from food sources can also be a problem for individuals suffering from conditions that interfere with the digestive process. Zinc deficiency is common in individuals who drink high levels of alcohol on a regular basis. Alcohol inhibits the body’s ability to absorb zinc and increases the amount of zinc that is expelled from the body through urination.
Does Zinc Help Colds?
Some studies have shown a benefit for using zinc to decrease the length of time for the common cold (when taken by mouth), acne (orally or topically), osteoporosis, age-related macular degeneration, and ADHD but more research is needed. Because of its role in supporting the immune system, zinc can be found in formulas that provide nutritional support during the winter months, when colds are prevalent. In these supplements, zinc is combined with other ingredients that are known to support a healthy immune system, such as vitamin C and Echinacea. Zinc is also present in supplements that are designed to promote good eye health along with copper and vitamins A, C and E.
Zinc Supplement Options
There are many zinc supplement formulations including soft gel tablets, fruit-flavored lozenges, liquids and tablets. There are also special formulations that do not include any animal products. Zinc supplements have a risk of side effects and interactions with other medications. Make sure to discuss zinc supplementation with your doctor or pharmacist. Be sure to talk about your medical history and disclose any medications, including over the counter and supplements to prevent drug interactions and side effects. If you and your physician decide that zinc supplementation is right for you, drugstore.com offers a wide variety of zinc supplements that can enhance your general health.