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Zinc is an essential trace metal which is absolutely necessary for life. Zinc plays an important role in the structure of cells and proteins and it is required in a number of important enzyme reactions, particularly antioxidant reactions.
The antioxidant reactions are the ones that help your body get rid of free radicals—and those free radicals are VERY important to get rid of before they cause serious damage! It is these free radicals that are thought to cause the damage of inflammation. 

supplements_bowl.jpgInflammation is at the root of most (if not all) chronic diseases. This includes cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.

The process of aging is also thought to be due to the damage caused by free radicals—those wrinkles, sagging skin, joint aches and pains and damage to various organs that makes us feel…..older!

Finally, zinc plays an important role in regulating gene expressing and cell signaling—and regulating cell death, an important factor in normal growth as well as the growth of cancer cells.

What are the Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency?

Mild zinc deficiency is relatively common, even though extreme zinc deficiency is relatively rare.

A mild zinc deficiency can lead to slowed or impaired physical growth and development, vision problems and neurological problems, including a loss of taste sensation. 

Also, zinc deficiency leads to an immune system that doesn’t function well to prevent infections—so the symptoms might be recurrent infections or infections that never quite seem to go away. 

Mild zinc deficiencies can lead to diseases such as infectious diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria.

There are some people who are most at risk for zinc deficiency – these are the very young, the elderly, individuals with GI problems, vegetarians and pregnant and lactating women.

It’s important to know that if you take zinc, you should take copper supplements as well—zinc can interfere with the absorption of copper, another necessary trace mineral.

Also, it’s likely that your multivitamin contains zinc—don’t go overboard! You shouldn’t take more than 40mg/day for any extended length of time—as always, talk to a trusted and knowledgeable health care professional!

What Can I Take Zinc For?

One of the more common uses of zinc supplementation is to help treat the common cold—a number of studies have indicated that zinc can reduce the number of days the symptoms last.

Zinc, when used topically, also appears to help improve the skin of acne patients.

There is also increasing evidence that zinc deficiency may play a role in the development of atherosclerosis.

Zinc deficiency seems to play an important part in the maintenance of a normal blood pressure  as well as preventing the development of heart failure

There is also a role for zinc in the treatment of stomach (peptic) ulcers.

Topical zinc solutions have also been used to treat leg ulcers resulting from poor blood flow.

Zinc supplements can be very helpful in maintaining your immune system and your heart and blood vessels.

Zinc solutions applied to the skin can help with acne and with healing wounds.

If any of these apply to you, first check to make sure you are getting zinc in your food or your vitamins.

The best food sources of zinc are seafood (especially oysters and crab), meat and dairy

Also remember to ensure you take copper supplements if you take zinc—copper is another essential mineral and is depleted by zinc.