Zinc is a trace mineral that is involved in numerous enzyme and body functions. Zinc is stored primarily in muscle and is found in high concentrations in bone, skin, kidney, liver, pancreas, retina and prostate.
Zinc is necessary for proper immune system function. The body requires zinc to develop and activate cells that are involved in immunity. Zinc supplementation has shown to reverse the low immune function associated with aging. Zinc is also important to wound healing as this mineral is necessary for protein synthesis and cell growth.
Zinc is important for normal skin function by maintaining the integrity of skin and mucosal membranes. For this reason, zinc is beneficial for skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne. In teenage males with acne, their serum levels of zinc are the lowest of any age group.
Several studies have demonstrated the zinc possesses anti-viral activity. A recent review of a number of studies concluded that zinc reduces the severity and duration of cold symptoms by inhibiting the virus that causes colds to replicate.
Zinc is essential for maintenance of vision and is present in high concentrations in the eye. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), sponsored by the government’s National Eye Institute, demonstrated that zinc supplementation plus other antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene), significantly reduced the risk of developing the Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Zinc is important to male sexual function. Zinc has the highest concentrations in the prostate and is involved in healthy prostate function. A zinc deficiency may be a contributing factor to prostate enlargement and male infertility.
Major Functions of Zinc
Promotes a healthy immune system and the healing of wounds
Essential for protein synthesis and collagen formation
Helps to prevent acne and regulate activity of oil glands
Supports normal growth & development
Oysters have the highest concentration of zinc; just six medium oysters contain 76.7 mg of this mineral or over 500% of Daily Values!
Red meats especially beef, lamb and liver have some of the highest concentrations of zinc in food.
Provided the soil has zinc, plants that contain the most zinc include whole grains, legumes (beans, lima beans), nuts (almonds) and various seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy, alfalfa, celery, mustard). Zinc in plant foods is less bioavailable because zinc binds to phytic acid (a type of fiber), inhibiting its absorption.
Recommended Dietary Allowance
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc is 8 mg for adult women and 11 mg for adult men. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for zinc is 40 mg.
If you look on a nutritional supplement facts panel, you’ll notice the Amount Per Serving for zinc and the % Daily Values is at located at the top of the panel. The Amount Per Serving is based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for this nutrient which is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of nearly all (97–98%) healthy individuals in each life-stage and sex group. The Reference Daily Intake for zinc is 15 mgs which represents 100% of the Daily Values.
A ratio of 1:10 between copper and zinc in the diet or through supplements should be maintained. Vegetarians who do not eat meat but high levels of legumes and whole grains may be zinc deficient as the presence of phytates in plants makes the mineral less bioavailable.
Zinc has the potential to interact with several medications. Certain antibiotics (Cipro, Achromycin, Sumycin) interact with zinc and inhibit the absorption of zinc and the antibiotic. Zinc can reduce the absorption and action of a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (penicillamine). Thiazide diuretics increase zinc excretion and may cause a zinc deficiency.
Given its role in immune system function, vision and normal skin function, zinc is incorporated in several of our Recovery, Acne, Anti-Aging product formulations. Clinical Support Program and Recovery Support Program are formulated with 21 mg of zinc.
To support overall health, Bone Support and Multi-Vitamin & Mineral are formulated with 15 mg of zinc. Anti-Aging Formula is formulated with 12.5 mg of this mineral. Due to its beneficial effects on skin health and acne, both Healthy Skin Formula and Clear Skin Formula contain 24 mg of zinc.
Last updated July 1, 2018
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.