Zinc Supplements FAQ
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What is Zinc and Where Does it Come From?
Zinc is a chemical element and an essential mineral that is integral to numerous biological functions throughout the human body.
More than 2 billion people around the world currently suffer from a zinc deficiency, which can lead to all manner of health conditions ranging from birth effects and stunted growth to nausea, diarrhea, and a compromised immune system to greater incidence of disease and infection.
Production of Zinc
Zinc is one of the more abundant elements in the Earth’s crust and is mined industrially throughout Australia, Asia, and Europe,
This element is one of the most widely used metals in the world, and there are numerous refining and manufacturing processes which can undergo to create various forms of zinc suitable for industrial, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical purposes.
What Types of Zinc are There?
The two types of zinc and most often find in zinc supplements are zinc carbonate and zinc gluconate, but there are many other types of zinc that are used in other areas of life.
Examples of these include zinc chloride which is used in deodorant and zinc sulfide which is used in luminescent paints. Applications of zinc extends far beyond this and it can also be combined with other metals create alloys suitable for use in construction and manufacturing.
How Does Zinc Work and What are the Benefits?
Zinc is one of the most important minerals or human health, playing a crucial role almost all enzymatic function within the body.
Zinc plays a vital role in DNA and RNA scripting, as well as the formation of proteins and cellular structures. In fact, zinc is directly responsible for a process known as zinc signaling which is used to describe the way certain types of cells communicate with one another, particularly cells in the immune system, digestive system, and prostate.
Zinc deficiency and diarrhea are somewhat linked, and a loss of this essential mineral can usually be quickly remedied through zinc supplementation.
There are some other documented benefits of zinc supplementation, such as a reduction of acne, age-related macular degeneration, and even improvements of symptoms associated with the common cold.
What’s more, depression and ADHD appear to respond favorably to oral or intravenous zinc intervention.
Many of these reported benefits do make a lot of sense when you consider the number of systems and processes that rely on zinc in the human body, but the evidence for many of these is scant best so it is very difficult to say for sure.
Who Can Benefit from Using Zinc and How?
The most obvious candidates for zinc supplementation are those who have been suffering from diarrhea, especially children who are malnourished or otherwise deficient in zinc.
The zinc appears to be highly beneficial for reproductive and prostate health information, with some links shown between zinc and testosterone production.
Although much of the benefits associated with zinc and testosterone production are anecdotal definitely warrants some consideration if you are looking for an alternative supplement that you can use to improve your loss or muscle building on progress in the gym.
Because of the immune-boosting benefits of zinc it may be worth keeping a bottle of zinc gluconate on hand for the colder months of the year when flu season starts, especially if you work in a busy office environment or otherwise exposed to a lot of people on a regular basis.
The difficulty with establishing the benefits of zinc supplementation is that the zinc supplements are typically not regulated by the FDA, and many of the studies showing some of these benefits are highly flawed biased in some way.
Conditions such as depression, anorexia, ADHD, and the other issues mentioned above are very serious in nature so if you are considering using a single product as an alternative form of treatment then it is highly advisable to speak to your doctor or physician before doing so.
Are Zinc Supplements Useful for Athletes and Bodybuilders?
Zinc definitely appears to be a useful supplement for bodybuilding, likely due to its close relationship with testosterone production and prostate health.
Doses of elemental zinc ranging from 10 mg to 50 mg depending on your body weight and existing diet are worth considering if you are training with a lots of volume, frequency, and intensity, and want an extra product that may help as a recovery supplement.
As we have mentioned above, many of these bodybuilding-related benefits associated with the zinc are purely anecdotal; however, if you’re willing to take a chance on an as of yet proven area of zinc supplementation and that is your prerogative. Just be sure to start on the lower end of the spectrum and use a low dose initially.
Related: Top 10 Testosterone Boosters
Do Any Foods Contain Zinc? Which Ones are the best?
Food sources of zinc include:
- Oysters contain the highest dose of zinc
- Pumpkin seeds;
- Other nuts and seeds; and
It is important to note that the zinc content of different soils will be a major determining factor in the final zinc content of various fruits, vegetables, and the foods mentioned above.
Nevertheless, the above-mentioned foods tend to be the richest sources of zinc, especially wheat germ and wheat bran.
Does Zinc Have any Side Effects?
Excessive consumption of zinc can result in the impaired absorption of other essential minerals such as copper and magnesium, making correct dosing and abstinence from long-term use very important.
Malabsorption copper and magnesium has been associated with doses of zinc ranging from 100 mg to 300 mg per day, and there is also an increased risk of poor blood cholesterol levels when zinc is taken in excess.
While there are some potential health benefits to be gained from supplementing with vitamin D it is important that you do not take it lightly and instead exercise caution by starting with a low dose and not using it consistently on a long-term basis.
As with any dietary supplement, we recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consult their doctor or physician prior to use. This also applies to people under the age of 18 and individuals who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions or who are taking any kind of prescription medication.
Note: We recommend speaking to a doctor before taking any supplements.
How and When Should I Use a Zinc Supplement?
Whether or not you actually need to use a zinc supplement in the first place is a matter of medical discussion, and one that you should to your doctor about if you have any doubts.
From the above information we can see that the zinc should be taken with food and in the presence of a diet rich in other essential minerals like copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and so on; if these other minerals are being neglected then zinc supplementation should be the last thing on your mind.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from a zinc deficiency then again, you should discuss this with your physician to receive an official diagnosis and ensure the correct measures are taken.
How Much Zinc Should I Take?
The USDA recommended daily intake for zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women.
Exactly how much zinc you take in the form of zinc you choose is going to be largely dependent upon the purpose you are hoping observed.
Short term zinc gluconate supplementation for treatment of the common cold as advice in the region of 10 to 25 mg taken every few hours.
Other conditions such as acne, osteoporosis, age-related macular degeneration, muscle cramps, and even stomach ulcers appear to be all somewhat treatable through the use of zinc, with doses of elemental zinc ranging from 30 mg to 135 mg per day.
Choosing the Right Zinc Supplement
When choosing a zinc supplement it is important to understand that various forms of zinc compound yield different levels of total elemental zinc.
Zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate all offer varying levels of potency so it is important that you check the product you are using to ensuring optimal dose of the benefits you are hoping to receive.
There are also some zinc acetate lozenges available on the market which are very well-suited to treatment of symptoms associated with the common cold due to its immune-boosting benefits.
Aside from this the main determining factor will be a budget you are working with and the value for money that each product offers, so keep reading below for more on this.
Please note: This FAQ has not been written or reviewed by a doctor or medical professional and is therefore not to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Nor should it be used as medical reference.