Zinc supplementation – when to take zinc in pills?

zinc supplementationA growing number of people is realizing how big the influence of diet on our health is. Which makes us try to get as many nutrients as possible, and we’re willing to complement our diet with supplementation. The supplements we choose most often are vitamin D, omega 3 acids or vitamin C – which makes sense, as plenty of people suffer from their deficiency. But we often forget about zinc – and not having enough zinc affects nearly 1/3 of society. We can’t recognize the symptoms of zinc deficiencies and don’t know how important zinc is in the body. It’s time to expand the basic knowledge on zinc and see if you need this element supplemented as well.

Why are zinc deficiencies so common?

Zinc is an element that regulates cell divisions, activity of many enzymes, metabolic processes. It supports functioning of numerous systems: immune, nervous, reproductive systems. It normalizes the blood lipid and glucose level, regulates eyesight, smell and taste, limits development of depression or prostate cancer. An adult should take about 10 mg of zinc everyday – otherwise the functioning of many organs will be disrupted.

The daily diet has no shortages of sources of zinc, it’s not so good when it comes to absorption though. The best sources of zinc are calf and beef liver, meats, fish and seafood. Not always are these products characterized by high zinc content, but at least the zinc contained in them gets absorbed to a high degree. Legumes or grains, on the other hand, do contain zinc, but also phytic acid – and this compound makes it impossible to absorb zinc, calcium or magnesium. Which makes the vegetarian and vegan diet a potential contribution to zinc deficiencies.

Limited absorption of zinc from the diet is also influenced by:

– taking supplements that contain high doses of copper or calcium
– taking corticosteroids, orally-administrated hormonal contraception, antibiotics

Digestive tract disorders that involve absorption problems and alcohol abuse also limit the availability of zinc from the diet.

Symptoms of insufficient zinc

Zinc deficiency can remain undetected for a long time – the symptoms are not very characteristic and might be mistaken for other deficiencies of vitamins or minerals. What to pay attention to in particular?

Characteristic symptoms of zinc deficiency are:

– taste and smell disorders
– lowered libido
– dryness in mouth
– lower alcohol tolerance
– anemia

On top of that, low zinc level is accompanied by less specific symptoms – overall fatigue, immunity disorders, depressive states, worse condition of skin (acne, stretch marks, slower wound healing process) and excessive hair loss.

Zinc as a diet supplement – the usage

When should one take zinc? Diet supplements containing this element are mostly recommended to everyone who notices symptoms of zinc deficiency in themselves. But it’s not just them – zinc should be taken preventively by vegetarians and vegans, people who abuse alcohol or people often taking medications that disturb the absorption of zinc from the digestive tract.

Other indications for zinc supplementation are:

– spot baldness
– pimpled acne
– slower wound healing process and intensified skin inflammations
– lowered libido and fertility disorders in men
– growth disorders in children
– vision disorders (the so-called night blindness)
– as a support in treating Wilson’s disease, related to excess accumulation of copper in the body

After consulting it with the doctor, zinc supplements can also be taken by pregnant women – zinc ensures proper fetal development, especially in the nervous system, conditions growth and intellectual skills and minimizes the risk of birth complications, such as premature birth or placental abruption.

When choosing zinc supplementation, it’s a good idea to choose its easy to absorb, organic forms – such as zinc citrate. It is also recommended to use clean label type preparations, which means free from any added synthetic ingredients. Such supplement will work very effectively, quickly replenishing the zinc supply in the body and preventing zinc deficiencies.

Joanna Łysak Author

Dietetyk i certyfikowany ekspert żywienia i ketozy. Zwolenniczka zdrowego stylu życia i zdrowej diety, propagatorka trendu clean label, praktyk diety ketogenicznej i postu przerywanego. W pracy i życiu prywatnym stawia na brak kompromisów – sięga wyłącznie po produkty i suplementy diety najwyższej jakości.

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