An important benefit of zinc is the role this mineral plays in proper skin care. Although not commonly spoken about or advertised, zinc is indeed an essential mineral.
Zinc is one element that is essential for healthy skin. In addition, to wound healing, zinc acts as an astringent and may help in the treatment of acne among other benefits.
One benefit of zinc for skin is in the area of wound healing. Oral zinc supplements help heal bed sores, skin ulcers, cold sores, canker sores, surgical incisions, burns, and a variety of other skin irritations. Topical treatments are also used for wound healing.
Zinc is a mineral that the body requires for the synthesis of collagen, which is a requirement for the healing of skin wounds. Zinc is also a component in the proper functioning of enzymes that are required by the body to repair skin wounds.
The benefit of zinc as a mild astringent is well noted. An astringent is a chemical substance that shrinks, constricts, or tightens body tissues.
Zinc oxide has this mild astringent property. It acts as a skin-drying agent and can act as a skin anti-inflammatory. Zinc oxide also helps sooth the skin from itching, rashes, and moist skin conditions such as diaper rash.
Dermatitis herpetiformis is a chronic disease of the skin. It is characterized by the presence of very itchy hives on the skin and a burning or stinging sensation on the skin. In addition, blister-like patches of skin may be present on the elbows, knees, and buttocks. There is some evidence that improper absorption of zinc may contribute to this skin care problem.
Another often stated benefit of zinc is in the treatment and prevention of acne. Zinc in the form of zinc gluconate or zinc sulfate is thought to help heal acne blemishes, reduce inflammation caused by acne, and reduce androgenic hormonal effects on skin that contribute to acne breakouts or in other words help regulate the skin’s oil gland activity.
Recently, the zinc benefits for treating acne has been questioned. Zinc oxide, zinc stearate, and zinc sulfide apparently have no established effectiveness in acne treatment as stated by an advisory panel of the United States Food and Drug Administration.
A benefit of zinc is in the treatment of dandruff. Zinc pyrithione is often found in dandruff shampoos and is effective in helping to relieve this skin problem. A zinc supplement (under the advice of a physician) may also play a role in treating and preventing dandruff.
Another zinc benefit for proper skin care is that it is a natural insect repellent and a natural sunscreen (zinc oxide effectively blocks the sun’s ultraviolet rays). It helps in the treatment of poison ivy, blisters, and gum disease. Zinc also plays a role in stimulating the transport of vitamin A from the liver to the skin.
Some preliminary studies have shown that zinc sulfate can be an effective treatment for contact dermatitis. More studies are underway to confirm the actual zinc benefits for this skin care problem.
In addition to the skin benefits, zinc also plays a part in many important body functions.
Strengthens the Immune System
Zinc plays a role in bolstering the immune system by assisting in the development and activation of certain white blood cells. Therefore, it helps protect the body from infections, viruses, and potentially some cancers. A lack of zinc leads to a weakened immune system.
Another benefit of zinc is in the treatment of eating disorders. A zinc deficiency has been linked to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia since it contributes to loss of appetite. With zinc supplements to replace the missing zinc, a person’s appetite can be restored resulting in weight gain and overall good progress with these types of disorders.
Related to this is the fact that zinc plays a role in the proper functioning of the taste and smell functions in humans, which are linked to appetite.
Pregnant and breast-feeding women require extra zinc in their diets. Zinc is important in the cell division and generation process. During pregnancy, there is a significant amount of cell growth occurring as the fetus develops. Women that have adequate amounts of zinc in their diets while pregnant will help to reduce complications such as poor fetus development and premature births.
For breast-feeding mothers, in the first few months, breast milk contains substantial quantities of zinc and the mother needs to intake more zinc to replenish the supply for her own well-being and for the quality of the breast milk.
Overall, the benefit of zinc is to support normal development and growth of the human body during and after pregnancy.
A benefit of zinc for men is linked to prostate health. Zinc can aid in fighting the inflammation and infection of the prostate gland.
Zinc is required by the body to manufacture testosterone and without sufficient amounts of this hormone, a man may suffer from a low sperm count, low sex drive, as well as other hormone related problems. Zinc also plays a role in sperm mobility and this mineral is being experimented with to examine whether it would be a useful therapy for male infertility.
Fighting the Common Cold
A controversial benefit of zinc is its effectiveness in treating the common cold. Some claim that sucking on zinc gluconate lozenges can help fight a cold and relieve cold symptoms. Although some studies indicate that there may be some benefit in reducing the amount of time colds last and decreasing the severity of symptoms, further research is required in order to establish a definite link.
Some tests have shown that zinc enhances memory and thinking. In addition, for individuals who have suffered head injuries that involve memory loss, zinc supplementation has contributed to recovery.
There is evidence that lack of zinc in the diet leads to deteriorating vision as individuals get older.
Adequate quantities of zinc in the diet helps maintain muscles in good health and contributes to their proper growth, strength, and endurance.
Because it is involved in stimulating the activity of many enzymes, zinc plays a role in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and energy.