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What Are the Benefits of Zinc Supplements?

by
author image Kathleen Blanchard, R.N.
Kathleen Blanchard is a registered nurse, with more than 10 years of experience in cardiovascular health, emergency room and ICU. She writes professionally for Emaxhealth.com. and AskMen.com. Blanchard is currently employed as a senior case manager and has held certification as a critical care registered nurse (CCRN), advanced trauma life support (ATLS), and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS).
What Are the Benefits of Zinc Supplements?
Zinc supplimentary capsules and fresh oysters. Photo Credit settaphan/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

Zinc is essential for proper functioning of all of the body’s cells. In some cases, zinc supplements can boost health and well-being. Zinc is obtained from foods and is added to some. Dietary supplements can boost zinc levels in the body. Zinc can also be found in lozenges for colds and sore throats, as well as in other over-the-counter medications to treat colds. Zinc is not stored in the body. A daily intake is needed to maintain balance in the body.

Enhanced Immunity

Zinc can boost immunity. Zinc supplements may shorten the duration of a cold and are currently being researched for drug development to fight infections and viruses. Zinc can boost the function of T-cells (cells that help fight infection). A study published in April 2009 in the "Journal of Leukocyte Biology" showed that zinc enhanced the expression of T-cells that can destroy bacteria.

Growth and Development

Zinc can benefit patients with sickle cell anemia who characteristically suffer from delayed growth and development. A study led by Dr. Babette S. Zemel of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania showed that children with sickle cell anemia experience increased growth and development compared to a group not given zinc supplements. There is also speculation that sickle cell anemia is associated with zinc deficiency. (see reference 2)

Healing

Wound healing, including gastric ulcers (erosion of the stomach lining) can be facilitated with zinc supplements. A study published in November 1975 in the "Medical Journal of Australia" showed that patients with ulcers healed three times faster when given zinc sulfate than when given a placebo. A more recent study by the Osaka City University Medical School in Japan, performed on rats, showed that zinc deficiency delayed ulcer healing, again showing the importance of zinc for wound healing.

Combating Diarrhea

Zinc supplements can combat diarrhea and have been shown to be important for children to shorten the duration of infectious bouts of diarrhea. A study published in 2000, performed by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health researchers, found that children under age five given zinc supplements consistently ceased to have diarrhea sooner than a control group of children.

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