What Does Zinc Do for the Body?

Following a healthy diet is a crucial factor in physical health, I don’t just mean a diet high in protein and good fats.  It’s important to remember the “little guys” you need in your diet, and zinc is one of them. Zinc is a mineral that your body absolutely must have in order to function properly, and you can only get it by ingesting it, either through nutrition or supplements.  But, as with anything, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Too much zinc can cause issues with your body’s ability to absorb other nutrients, and too little can make it hard for your body to function on a healthy scale. Let’s discuss this further, shall we?

Why Zinc?

Zinc plays a major job in helping the enzymes in your body maintain a healthy immune system, protect your body from damaging atoms, assisting enzymes in removing carbon dioxide, and even helping maintain healthy levels of testosterone in men.  Zinc also has a serious role in the formation of new synapses and nerve cells, as well as assisting in the metabolic process. Impressed yet? How about the fact that zinc even helps control a protein in the brain called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).  This protein is vital for ensuring that the nervous system functions normally. Without the proper levels of zinc, the nervous system can be thrown off track, causing reduced memory capacity, short term memory loss, and even depression.

How Do I Get the Zinc I Need?

You can ingest the healthy amount of zinc you need through your diet, but if you’re prone to high intensity workouts, it’s important to understand that you lose zinc through sweating.  You may have to alter your diet to more zinc-heavy foods to compensate, or even consider supplements.

A list of zinc heavy foods are:

  • -Oysters
  • -Grass-fed Beef
  • -Lamb
  • -Spinach
  • -Nuts
  • -Legumes
  • -Mushrooms

If you’re unsure that you can acquire the amount of zinc you need to compensate for your level of physical activity (sweat!) you may want to consider supplements.  One such zince supplement that seems to be popular within the fitness community is zinc monomethionine aspartate (ZMA). ZMA is a unique blend of magnesium and zinc with a bit of vitamin B6 thrown in as well.  ZMA has been used to boost testosterone and is sometimes even recommended as a sleep aid. Studies show that continued use of zinc supplements can even elevate the body’s antioxidant capacity, as well as helping lower inflammation in the body.

Many multivitamins have zinc as well, so the best approach is to read the labels and find the supplement that is right for you.  A high price tag doesn’t necessarily mean results. However, be sure to pay attention to any side effects. Too much zinc intake can make itself known pretty quickly through nausea and vomiting.  If the supplement, diet, or combination of the two that you’re using leaves you feeling lousy, that means it’s time to cut back on the zinc absorption. Try cutting the amount in half, and moving forward from there.



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