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You may already know that zinc is an essential mineral that your body needs to stay healthy. Have you ever stopped to think about why that is? What is zinc good for, and why do so many people take zinc supplements every day? Learning more about this naturally occurring elemental mineral can help you make better decisions about your health.
When people ask the question, “What is zinc good for?”, the most common reply always has to do with immune function. The European Journal of Immunology reported back in 2010 that the human body needs zinc to activate T lymphocytes (more commonly known as T-cells). Your body’s T-cells are its prime defense against any and all infection since they regulate the immune response and directly attack infected cells.
Studies conducted at the University of Toronto back in October 2011 and posted in the distinguished Neuron journal show that zinc is also crucial for learning and forming new memories. They studied neurons in the brain’s hippocampus, the area associated with learning and memories. They found that removing zinc from the bloodstream weakened the connection between neurons. As such, having a healthy amount of zinc in the blood can help you make and retain memories. Some experts even say it can help you feel more focused throughout the day.
Zinc also helps maintain the structure of your skin. Research on patients who have chronic wounds or pressure ulcers revealed that they typically have zinc deficiencies. Topical zinc has been shown to speed the healing process of wounds by impeding the growth of bacteria and decreasing swelling in the area. Although more research is needed on the efficacy of zinc taken internally to assist in wound treatment, early research is promising.
Experts believe that zinc can help treat and prevent acne in a few different ways. First, it helps regulate keratin, which is a protein that keeps the skin cells bound together. Although keratin is responsible in part for younger, healthier skin, too much can make it difficult for bacteria to exit the skin once it becomes trapped in the pores. Zinc also carries vitamin A to your skin and helps to regulate hormones, both of which can reduce the incidence and severity of acne. Finally, zinc plays a role in programmed cell death, which allows old skin cells to slough off and new skin cells to take their place. When this process is slowed, such as in the case of zinc deficiency, the pores become clogged and acne may result.
Zinc can also help balance natural testosterone levels by inhibiting the function of an enzyme known as aromatase, which is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. Men over 30 start producing less testosterone each and every year, and aromatase converts some of that testosterone into estrogen. Although the male body does need some estrogen in order to maintain health, not enough testosterone and too much estrogen can lead to things like mood changes, hair loss, weight gain, and even sexual dysfunction. Zinc prevents the conversion to estrogen, which allows men to retain and use more of the testosterone their bodies produce.
What is zinc good for? As it turns out, zinc is an essential mineral for many different reasons. It keeps both your mind and your body healthy, and it can even boost your immunity to prevent and reduce the severity of some of the most common ailments.