Our body needs zinc for almost all processes. That much is certain. So you need the valuable mineral all the time.
A deficiency is rare, but especially if you are vegetarian or vegan, you should always have your zinc level checked – your GP or family doctor will help you here.
But how does zinc actually work in the body? What do we need zinc for?
Let’s go! Today we are dedicated to the zinc effect!
The effect of zinc in the body
Zinc is an essential trace element. Your body cannot make it itself and we need to take it through food or supplements. We need it ostensibly for metabolism and it is part of many important enzymes.
Especially with three metabolic processes, it is indispensable:
- sugar metabolism,
- fat metabolism,
- and protein metabolism.
As you know, these are not exactly unimportant processes for our lives.
In addition, zinc also helps with cell growth and also participates in the building up of our genetic material – DNA. It is also contained in the blood via the protein albumin.
By the way, however, it is also crucial for the immune system and a variety of hormones. If the immune system had too little zinc, it goes too far and also attacks the body itself through disproportionate defensive reactions.
So one can sum up: nothing can be done without zinc.
Does the body then store zinc for the necessary effect?
Our organism can store about 2 grams of zinc. Only 70% of these are stored in the bones, hair and skin. Also in our eyes, the liver or – at least in men – in the reproductive organ, the trace element is found. This is because zinc is also necessary for sperm formation.
2 grams doesn’t sound much and unfortunately it isn’t. We can store many other minerals well. Zinc is not one of them. That is why we must pay attention to the daily intake.
This is via food, but this is where the phytates come into play. These have been taken into account in the reference values since 2019, as they inhibit the absorption of zinc. Especially healthy foods such as legumes or whole grains have contained a lot of phytate.
The majority of zinc-containing foods are animal foods. More specifically: meat, fish, shellfish, hard cheese and eggs.
That’s why it’s especially important for vegan or vegetarian diets to pay attention to the supply.
Zinc as a catalyst for mining: Zinc works!
Zinc is therefore a component of more than 300 enzymes and is important in almost all life processes. This also includes the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
It also acts as an antioxidant:it binds the free radicals. These are reactive, harmful oxygen compounds that can endanger cells and genetic material. They are released by normal metabolic processes and also by UV light or nicotine.
The trace element also contributes to the formation of hemoglobin – the red blood dye.
However, it also acts as a catalyst for the degradation of toxins. Without zinc, there is no alcohol degradation by the liver.
Without the trace element, many hormones do not work. Even the vital insulin storage becomes problematic. Without zinc, no functioning blood sugar regulation can be guaranteed.
The Effect of Zinc: Zinc as a Remedy
Anyone who has been injured before and needed ointments for wound healing or for eczema probably knows a quite popular zinc effect: the wound healing power.
Zinc is often “hidden” in salts: zinc acetate, zinc aculate, zinc chloride, zinc gluconate, zinc oxide, zinc stesteate, zinc sulfate or zinc undecylenate.
This all sounds highly toxic, but is conducive to healing.
In addition, zinc inhibits the absorption of copper in the intestine: the intestine absorbs less copper into the blood path. For this reason, zinc sulphate and zinc acetate are mainly used in the treatment of Wilson’s disease (Morbus Wilson). In this disease, the copper metabolism in the liver is disturbed and zinc counteracts here.
Does zinc work in colds? What’s the point?
In 2015, a much-quoted meta-study by India’s Institute of Medical Education and Research tried to prove that zinc helps with colds. According to the study, zinc is intended to alleviate the diseases and shorten the duration.
It has since been revoked by the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration, a global network of independent researchers. Other studies have also failed to prove this effect.
However, in 2004, the WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) announced that zinc, together with the so-called WHO drinking solution (water-dissolved glucose, table salt and other electrolytes), is recommended for acute diarrhea. The Cochran Collaboration confirms this treatment at least for children over 6 years of age and for regions with potential zinc undersupply.
Zinc to increase performance? Does zinc have an effect on our performance?
A conference in 2005 was based on the assumption that zinc increases performancein children. A double daily dose (20 mg) should lead to this. It was found that visual memory, performance in a word-finding test and ability to concentrate were particularly increased. Since then, there has been no confirmation or opposition to it.
It can therefore be assumed that zinc increases concentration and performance in children, among other things, when learning. There are no results for adults.
Overall, however, the positive effect on concentration is easy to explain. Zinc influences fatty acid production in brain cells. In the absence of these fatty acids, it is to the normal function of the brain. Even the neurotransmitters are produced only with enough zinc. These are messenger substances that transmit the arousal of one nerve cell to the other at the synapses. The so-called happiness hormones serotonin and dopamine are also dependent on the nutrient zinc.
So if zinc is missing, we lack the happiness hormomas. The neurotransmitters produced only make it possible for reflexes or commands of our brain to be processed in the first place. Researchers from a number of renowned institutes, including the Max Planck Institute in Frankfurt am Main, the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, confirm that without zinc, the ability to concentrate suffers severely. There is also evidence that memory does not work without zinc.
The zinc effect is noticeable everywhere. Your concentration is absolutely necessary!
In summary, you need zinc almost everywhere. Without zinc, no metabolism, no ability to concentrate and no degradation of pollutants. This is even only a cutout, because an adequate supply of zinc is crucially important for:
- sugar, fat and protein metabolism,
- cell growth,
- the structure of the hereditary substance,
- sperm formation in men,
- oxygen and carbon dioxide transport,
- binding free radicals and the degradation of toxins,
- the blood,
- blood sugar regulation,
- the wound healing power,
- concentration and performance.
A long list! So the effect of zinc in your body is fundamental.