What is Zinc?
Zinc is an extremely important trace element. Your body absolutely needs zinc. Its health benefits include proper functioning of your immune system, digestion, and control of diabetes; improved stress levels, energy metabolism, acne and wound healing. Moreover, it is reported beneficial in pregnancy, hair care, eczema, weight loss, night blindness, cold, eye care, and appetite. That’s a remarkable list of health benefits, all confirmed in a wide variety of published scientific studies. Let’s Z what scientists say about some of those health benefits.
Zinc helps brain health. The powerful antioxidant effects of zinc help the body eliminate heavy metals from the brain, reducing accumulations in tissue that might cause damage. It also helps maintain cellular homeostasis of brain cells. This combination helps prevent neurodegeneration and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Zinc improves sleep, cognition and energy levels. Zinc plays an essential role in neurotransmitter function and helps maintain cognition. It is necessary in the metabolism of melatonin, which is a key hormone for healthy sleep. In addition, zinc regulates dopamine, an energizing neurotransmitter that gives you drive and focus. Also, zinc is part of an enzyme that is necessary for the anabolism of fatty acids in the brain membrane. This is very important because a key part of supporting brain health and cognition is to ensure the membrane gets the nutrients it needs. Zinc is a commonly ignored mineral for treating ADHD. Studies show children with ADHD tend to have lower zinc than healthy children. Even more promising, one study of 400 children with diagnosed ADHD found that taking 150 mg/day of zinc improved impaired social behavior and made subjects less hyperactive and impulsive than a placebo.
Zinc helps to improve mood and avoid depression. The exact relationship between zinc deficiency and depression is not clear; however, it surely has to do with the role of zinc in neurotransmitter and hormone production. Dopamine production, which is partly regulated by zinc status, is a chemical that boosts energy, mood, and reward-driven learning. Poor insulin health or low testosterone levels can lead to health problems that increase rates of depression and low energy. Add the antioxidant power of zinc and its ability to get rid of inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor (causes cell damage), and it is reasonable to ensure zinc intake is adequate when treating depression. A new study in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that zinc deficiency may affect depression in women more than men. Women in this study who were already using antidepressants and had low zinc levels had a five times greater risk of ongoing depression. It’s thought that the gender-based relationship between low zinc and depression is related to how zinc influences energy levels and production of the hormone estrogen. In women, estrogen is involved in serotonin production—the neurotransmitter that makes people feel good—and zinc supplementation can increase the density of serotonin receptors in the brain.
Wellness seekers will look for zinc in their natural vitamin supplements and try to eat foods with high levels of zinc, such as oysters, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and nuts.