What Exactly Is Zinc & How Does It Boost Immune Function?

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This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany*

The body needs a myriad of different nutrients and vitamins to function at its best. Every single nutrient has a specific job to do within the body, and without adequate levels, certain processes can start to wane, leaving others to have to work harder to keep things balanced.

Vitamins, nutrients, minerals and trace elements all work symbiotically, and each has its own recommended daily value. When it comes to essential trace elements like zinc, the body requires different amounts depending on age and lifestyle. But what is zinc, exactly? And how does zinc boost immune function?

What is zinc?

Zinc is an essential trace element that the body can’t produce on its own; it must be ingested either through food or supplementation. The body also cannot store zinc in higher quantities, so ongoing consumption is a must in order to keep up adequate levels.

Zinc is used in the body for numerous functions – for example, to help assemble protein molecules. It also plays a vital role in wound healing, growth and development, and enzymatic reactions that help sustain life. A lack of zinc can lead to various symptoms, including gastrointestinal issues, lowered immune response, fertility issues and mood disturbances.

What are the benefits of taking zinc?

Zinc has a plethora of health benefits. Research has shown that it can help improve the body’s ability to heal wounds, and it is commonly used in medical care facilities to treat burns and other skin injuries because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Zinc has also been found to help with collagen synthesis in the skin, thus demonstrating how it can influence skin-related wound healing.

Zinc can also help decrease the risk of age-related diseases such as pneumonia and macular degeneration, as well as lowering the frequency of infections. It does this by, for example, relieving oxidative stress, which has been shown to drive chronic illness. Zinc has also been shown to increase brain function in ageing adults, and to improve immune function.

 

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Image by Brian Patrick Tagalog on Unsplash: Zinc can increase the speed of wound healing.

How does zinc boost immune function?

When it comes to the immune system, the body needs everything to be working as it should to respond to pathogens correctly. When the body has enough zinc, immune function can benefit greatly – for example, because of the nutrient’s ability to influence cell signalling and stimulate immune cells.

As mentioned above, zinc also helps with oxidative stress, which is caused by an overabundance of free radicals and inflammation in the body. When antioxidants and free radicals are balanced, oxidative stress is reduced, thus heightening the response of the immune system against threats.

What type of zinc is best for immune system function?

Zinc supplements can be found in many different forms and each has its own absorption rate. Zinc sulphate is on the cheaper side, but it can also cause stomach upset and is likely to have the least bioavailability.

Other forms of zinc include:

  • Picolinate
  • Citrate
  • Gluconate

Zinc can also be found in the form of nasal sprays and lozenges, though these are mostly used to help combat symptoms of common cold.

Zinc picolinate may have one of the best absorption rates among all types, but both citrate and gluconate have been shown to have a good bioavailability, too. In general, one can say that organically bound zinc has a higher bioavailability than zinc that is inorganically bound and delivered.

What are some natural sources of zinc?

Many people don’t require the use of zinc supplements because they have a well-rounded diet that satisfies their needs. Natural sources of zinc include:

  • Meat
  • Shellfish
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Dairy products such as cheese and milk
  • Eggs
  • Wholegrains

Since meat contains the highest levels of zinc, and zinc in plant-based foods can have lower levels of bioavailability, those who eat a plant-based diet may have more trouble reaching their daily intake amounts, and may require supplementation at some point in their lives.

 

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Image by Cenczi on Pixabay: Can taking a zinc supplement help with your immune function?

What is the best zinc supplement?

Taking the right amount of zinc can help your immune system function better and increase your overall level of health as you age. The best zinc supplement to take will depend on a number of factors. Things such as age, whether or not you are deficient in zinc or just need an extra boost, and what ailment you’re looking to treat with supplementation will all come into play when choosing the right supplement for you.

It’s also worth noting that the cost of zinc varies widely by type, as does the body’s ability to absorb each type. As previously mentioned, zinc picolinate has been shown to have a high absorption rate as opposed to all other types. It’s important to take into account personal needs, budget and stomach tolerance when starting a new supplement regime.

MakeWell’s Zinc 25 supplement is created with the picolinate form of zinc so that absorption is at its highest. This new Zinc 25 supplement is also free of any other ingredients such as thickeners, colourants, additives and so on. It is therefore a zinc mono preparation in its purest form.

Featured image by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash