Zinc

Background

Zinc, a type of metal, is an essential trace element which plays a vital role in overall human health and cognition. Zinc is an aphrodisiac and testosterone promoter though it helps raise testosterone levels only when the user is deficient in zinc. It is very crucial for the functioning of your enzyme, hormone, and immune systems.[1] Due to having nootropic properties, zinc helps manage a number of mental health conditions associated with disruptions in attention span and memory. Additionally, it enhances cerebral well-being in general. However, you need zinc in small amounts every day so that you can maintain health and perform important functions each day.

Benefits

Zinc is a nutrient found throughout your body. Being one of the many effective natural cold remedies, zinc benefits your body in many ways. It helps your immune system and metabolism function. It also helps with hormone production, growth and repairment. Zinc acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and therefore, zinc may have significant therapeutic benefits for several common, chronic diseases like fighting cancer or reversing heart disease.[2]
Zinc plays an essential role in numerous biochemical pathways. Zinc deficiency affects many organ systems, including the integumentary, gastrointestinal, central nervous system, immune, skeletal, and reproductive systems. Zinc deficiency also results in dysfunction of both humoral and cell-mediated immunity and increases the susceptibility to infection. Supplementation of zinc has been shown to reduce the incidence of infection as well as cellular damage from increased oxidative stress.[3]
The common health benefits of zinc include:

  • Improves cognitive performance [4]
  • Enhances memory [5]
  • Improves immune system [6]
  • Increases mood [7]
  • Reduces depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [8]
  • Helps people fights cold [9]
  • Acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory [10]
  • Helps people fight cancer [11]
  • Helps people who have diabetes [12]
  • Improves heart health [13]
  • Boosts testosterone [14]
  • Increases fertility [15]
  • Improves liver health [16]
  • Helps with muscle growth [17]
  • Helps in malaria condition [18]
  • Users report that it improves alertness, focus, learning, recall, and reduces brain fog

Zinc is a potent antioxidant and can provide benefits for prostate issues. It also plays a role in the repair of intestinal mucosa, when supplemented in high doses. Zinc is also important to wound healing and your sense of taste and smell.

How it works

The trace metal zinc is a biofactor that plays essential roles in the central nervous system across the lifespan from early neonatal brain development through the maintenance of brain function in adults.  Homeostasis of protein-bound and free zinc is critical to normal brain function. Zinc provides structural stability for a variety of transcription factors, and in doing so plays an important role in the regulation of gene expression. Zinc plays key roles in enzymatic activity, cell signaling, and the modulation of neurotransmitter activity. Most recently it was discovered that adult neurogenesis in the brain is dependent on zinc, a finding that has widespread implications for hippocampal function including learning and memory and control of emotion and mood.[19]
Zinc inhibits GABAA receptors, reducing their inhibitory action. The effect of zinc on excitatory glutamate receptors, however, is more complex. First, zinc acts as an inhibitory neuromodulator of glutamate release. Initially, it was thought to inhibit activity of NMDA glutamate receptors.[19]

Considerations

Zinc is normally safe at the moderate dose. But adverse side effects typically happen when you take too much zinc and it can result in abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches, loss of appetite and vomiting.
There may be some possible interactions with antibiotics such as quinolone or tetracycline antibiotics. Again, zinc can reduce the absorption of the rheumatoid arthritis drug penicillamine. However, taking the antibiotic two hours before or four to six hours after taking zinc can minimize such effect.

Recommendations

Zinc can be of two standard dosages. The low dosage can be 5-10mg, while the high dosage can be 25-45mg. In fact, the low dose works well as a daily intake. But the high dosage could be taken by anyone at risk for a zinc deficiency. Remember, too much zinc is toxic. So, keep your dose of zinc below 50 mg per day. To keep your copper/zinc ratio stable, you can stack it with 2 mg of copper.

Sources