Next to iron, zinc is the most common mineral in the body and is found in every cell. It has an important role in the workings of the muscular system, reproductive systems in both men and women, and proper insulin and thyroid function. Zinc is a catalyst for the vitality of the skin and wound healing. However, zinc is probably best known for supporting the healthy functioning of the immune system.
Several studies have shown that zinc lozenges or syrup reduced the length of a cold by one day, especially when taken within 24 hours of the first signs and symptoms. Studies also show that taking zinc regularly might reduce the number of colds each year, the number of missed school days, and the amount of antibiotics required in otherwise healthy children. New studies are also looking at how the body uses zinc and whether or not taking zinc can improve the treatment of celiac disease, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Best Sources from Food:
Precision Nutrition’s Food Encyclopedia is a great source for tracking down nutrition information. Here are the foods that are high in zinc:
If you can’t get zinc from your food …
There are several forms of zinc, but not all are easily absorbed or appropriate for every person. The two best forms are zinc gluconate, and zinc citrate—both can be taken as supplements.
According to the National Academy of Health Sciences, the need for a zinc supplement varies based on age, gender, pregnancy status, and other health factors. Zinc can interfere with the actions of some medications and can even affect the utilization of other minerals, such as copper. It’s best to first consult with your wellness practitioner before taking zinc.
- Hulisz, D. “Efficacy of Zinc Against Common Cold Viruses: An Overview.” Abstract. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association 44, no. 5 (2004).
- National Academy of Sciences. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. “Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc.” Report. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2001.
- Seaman, A. “Zinc May Shorten Common Cold but Side Effects Common.” Reuters website. Accessed July 2015.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. “Zinc.” Reviewed June 30, 2011.