Zinc is an essential mineral that is important to the growth and function of the reproductive organs. The prostate gland in men contains an abundance of zinc. Zinc may help prevent acne and regulate the oil glands. It is required for formation of collagen and bone, wound healing, a healthy immune system, and enhances the sense of taste and smell. A form of zinc called zinc monomethionine has been found to be comparable to Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and beta-carotene in antioxidant qualities.
A deficiency may present the following symptoms:
- Delayed sexual maturation
- Thin fingernails that peel
- Poor night vision
- Inability to fight infection
- Hair loss
- High cholesterol
Chronic diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, alcoholism, pancreatic disorders, and kidney disease may indicate a need for a zinc supplement. If you have any of these disorders, talk with your physician before taking zinc.
Zinc lozenges have been used to treat cold symptoms and may reduce the duration of a cold.
Sources of Zinc
Food sources include: Brewer's yeast, eggs, kelp, lamb, lima beans, liver, meat, pecans, whole grains, oysters (best source), and shellfish. Herbs containing zinc include cayenne, chamomile, dandelion, fennel seed, hops, parsley, rose hips, sage and wild yam.
The most commonly used form of zinc is zinc sulfate. This supplement is easily absorbed. Other forms include zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc acetate, zinc glycerate, and zinc monomethionine. Zinc lozenges are also available for treating colds.
Guidelines and Cautions
- Since the body absorbs up to 40% of zinc from food eaten, discuss individual dose requirements with a medical professional.
- Zinc can be toxic if taken in excess. Symptoms include an upset stomach, vomiting, headache, drowsiness, increased sweating, anemia, and hallucinations.
- Zinc sulfate may cause stomach discomfort.
- If you are taking both zinc and iron supplements, take them at different times. The two minerals can interfere with each other’s activity if they are taken together.
Disclaimer: Many people report feeling improvement in their condition and/or general well-being taking dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements. The Editorial Board of SpineUniverse.com, however, cannot endorse such products since most lack peer-reviewed scientific validation of their claims. In most cases an appropriate diet and a "multiple vitamin" will provide the necessary dietary supplements for most individuals. Prior to taking additional dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements it is recommended that patients consult with their personal physician to discuss their specific supplement requirements.