Zinc is a metal needed in trace amounts to maintain your health; its impact is seen in your immune system and in treating a variety of health challenges.
People need varying amounts of this mineral at different times in their lives — adult men need a recommended dose of 11 mg per day, while adult women need 8 mg per day, according to the National Institutes of Health
. But that can change depending on health problems and other influences (pregnant women, for instance, need 11 mg per day while pregnant teenagers need 12 mg per day).
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Other conditions affect the amount of zinc used by your body, including eating a vegetarian diet, NIH said. Meat is a primary source of zinc and although grains and beans typically have zinc, they also have compounds that keep zinc from being fully absorbed by the body, NIH said. Vegetarians may need to eat as much as 50 percent more zinc than the recommended amounts.
Keep in mind that overdoses of zinc can occur and can cause serious medical issues. Consult a doctor to determine the correct dose for your health conditions and your lifestyle.
“The body needs zinc. But because the body balances zinc and copper, people who get way too much zinc have dangerously low levels of copper. Moreover, zinc overdose itself may be toxic,” WebMD reported
Zinc is included in numerous supplements to treat a variety of conditions:
• Many multi-vitamin formulas contain zinc. Although the NIH says most people in the United States get enough zinc from the foods they eat, those wishing to supplement their diet can easily find a formula containing this mineral. Too little zinc in your diet can cause problems, especially for children who may see stunted growth or severe diarrhea, WebMD said.
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• Zinc may be found in various supplements for taking care of your eyes. It has been identified for treating macular degeneration, night blindness and cataracts. “Research suggests that zinc might help keep early AMD (macular degeneration) from worsening into advanced AMD,” according to NIH. “In a large study, older people with AMD who took a daily dietary supplement with 80 mg zinc, 500 mg vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin E, 15 mg beta-carotene, and 2 mg copper for about 6 years had a lower chance of developing advanced AMD and less vision loss than those who did not take the dietary supplement.”
The same study found that people who took only zinc supplements also had a lower risk of getting advanced AMD.
• Zinc is used in creams to prevent sunburns, soothe and prevent diaper rash, as help for minor cuts and burns, to treat acne, to fight dandruff — the list is long on WebMD, which ranks potential uses on a scale of “effective” to “insufficient evidence for” based on research.
• Zinc has shown possibility in treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, WebMD said. Taking it by mouth along with conventional treatments may “slightly improve symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsiveness and socialization problems in some children with ADHD,” the website said.
• Taken by mouth as a lozenge, zinc seems to reduce the length of time individuals have the common cold, WebMD said. However, using it in a pill or as a nose spray doesn’t seem to have any impact on colds. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University said
studies showed it was most effective when taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
• Zinc has shown possibilities in treating osteoporosis, or weak bones, WebMD said. “Low zinc intake seems to be linked to lower bone mass,” the site said. “Taking a zinc supplement in combination with copper, manganese, and calcium might also decrease bone loss in women who have passed menopause.”
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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