Nutrition Meets Food Science

Zinc, a Healthy Choice for Sustainable Living

Zinc, a mineral which goes right up with vitamin C, E and selenium is proven to have number of benefits on health. Let’s be honest, we come across this name many times but hardly we had given any thought on this trace mineral. For your understanding,zinc is an “essential nutrient” meaning it has to come from the diet.

As per the revised RDA set by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)in 2020, a healthy man must consume 17mg of zinc whereas the amount for woman is 13mg every day. These values can be changed considering the body’s need during life stages like childhood, pregnancy, lactation or during illness and deficiency.

In medical sciences, Zinc is widely accepted for increasing immunity and maintaining good health.There are many hidden benefits associated with it which we surely need to know in urge to stay fit and fine. This article will take you to some mind-blowing advantages of zinc on your body’s health.

Some Important Benefits Of ZincThat You Must Know:

1. It Strengthen Body’s Immune System 
One of the key benefits of zinc is towards building strong immunity against common cold and infections. As this micronutrient is actively present in various body cell functions, it is thereby crucial for development of Immunoglobulin, Natural killer cells, T & B lymphocytes (these areimmune cells which helps body fight against infections).

An individual deficient in zinc might have weak immune responses against even mild infections and more susceptible to common diseases like cold, fever and flu. In current times, such nutrients being need of the hour could way forward help you to stay internally fit amid the surge in COVID-19. 

Many studies have proven that people who eat zinc containing foods or take zinc supplement shows better recovery from illness compared with those who do not, and that too in short time.

 2. Controls Blood Sugars
Insulin is a hormone which takes up sugar from your food into cell for energy and manages its amount in the blood. In abnormal conditions namely diabetes mellitus, body produces very little or no insulin (depending on the type). This eventually increases glucose in blood stream. The mineral zinc deals with insulin secretion as well as improves insulin sensitivity among obese individuals. 

One study conducted in group of diabetics who were on zinc supplements shown good glucose control and reduced insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is commonly seen in obese or overweight people with type 2 diabetes due to high fat layer near belly region. 

Zinc, moreover is effective in decreasing bad fat and promote healthy lipids (good fat). So, not for just diabetics it becomes a good choice if youwant to lose weight as well. 



3. Good For Skin 
To be honest, zinc works just like your sunscreen. It protects you from harmful UV rays and reduces dullness caused by environmental pollution. It also prevents your skin exposure to free radicals. 

Besides protecting externally, zinc along with other vitamins rejuvenate the skin from deep within as it supports production of new cells and  reduce the chance of inflammation (swelling) which might had occur because of any cut. 

Out of total amount present in body, major amount of zinc i.e. approx. 5% is found in skin. It is well known for giving one a beautiful acne-free skin. 


4. Reduces Trauma or Pain & Quickens Healing Process
At times of any injury there may cause extreme blood loss, tissue loss, internal damage or fracture. Most of the hospitals and burn centers prescribe zinc supplementation to treat minor to major cuts, burns, ulcers and other kind of skin allergy. 

As this mineral plays critical role in synthesis of collagen, a muscle protein. Patients who had gone through clinical procedure or operations are generally given good dose of zinc for quick & better recovery. This mineral really decreases post operative healing time. On the other hand,low zinc levels in bodymay result in slow healing of wounds.

Besides this, it also helps in curing foot ulcers, rashes and edema which is seen in diabetics who have very high blood glucose level.


5. Fights Pimples & Acne
Pimple pops out when your skin produces too much oil. Oils are actually produced by certain glands and not the skin. So how zinc works out in this problem? Well, as it is associated with immunity it acts as barrier or for say a shield against external damage. Also, it very well controls the amount of oil that your skin is producing. 

This is how it works! So, next time before you hike on expensive cosmetic products, first make sure you are getting enough amount of zinc. You may take advice of your doctor or a dietician for better results.


6. Important Mineral During Pregnancy
Nutrient deficiencies are quite common during pregnancy as the recommended demand is almost doubled. Deficiency iscommonly seen in low socio-economic groups. A pregnant woman who is deficient in zinc is at greater risk of giving early or premature birth. Also the foetus may grow abnormally or may born with several birth defects. Therefore, in pregnancy, one must includeenough zinc rich foods in daily diet. Usually, people on non-vegetarian diet get enough of recommended amount so deficiency is quite commonly seen among those who feeds solely on plant based foods.

Why it is important in pregnancy? Because this nutrient is very much involved in cellular functions like cell growth & cell division playing eminent role in making DNA, RNA, proteins and many more essential substances which is actually a base for sustainable life. Thus, adequacy is very important especially during pregnancy.

Other Benefits Include

  • Strengthening of bones and muscles
  • Hair growth
  • Good for vision and a cure for eye diseases like night blindness and macular degeneration.
  • Promotes heart health
  • Treatment from osteoporosis, arthritis and certain types of cancers. 

It is observed that athletes very commonly consume oral supplements of zinc for better stamina and sports endurance.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277319/#:~:text=Several%20studies%20have%20shown%20the,children%20(11%2C12).
  2. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005525.pub3/full#:~:text=Some%20studies%20have%20shown%20that,attacks%20and%20strokes%20is%20raised.
  3. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/potential-benefits-of-zinc-supplements/
  4. https://www.who.int/elena/titles/zinc_pregnancy/en/#:~:text=The%20central%20role%20of%20zinc,mother%20and%20the%20developing%20fetus.
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Abir Ansari

Jr. Nutritionist, PFNDAI

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