Zinc: Supports a healthy immune system. Essential in wound healing.
Zinc is a trace mineral that is essential for all forms of life, including plants, animals, and microorganisms. Zinc is an antioxidant nutrient which aids in protein synthesis and wound healing. It is vital for the development of the reproductive organs. Zinc supports healthy prostate functions and male hormone activity. It governs the contractility of muscles which is important for blood stability.
Zinc maintains the body's alkaline balance and helps in normal tissue function and aids in the digestion and metabolism of phosphorus. Zinc is a mineral that is essential to the synthesis of DNA and RNA, of proteins, insulin and sperm. The body needs zinc to metabolize carbohydrates, protein, fat and alcohol and to dispose of carbon dioxide and make good use of vitamin A. More than seventy different enzymes require zinc to perform their function.
One of the highest concentrations of zinc in the human body is found in the eye, especially the iris and retina. Although the exact mechanisms of its functions are largely unknown, zinc seems to be involved in the activation of vitamin A, and thus is a factor in night vision. As an antioxidant, it may protect vision by reducing damage from free radicals.
Zinc deficiency may be contributing to the development or progression of chronic eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, the major cause of vision loss among older people.
In one study, the risk of vision loss was reduced by 10 percent in people taking supplements of 80 milligrams of zinc and 2 milligrams of copper. In addition, there is a growing body of evidence that indicates that poor zinc intake is related to such eye conditions are impaired color discrimination; cataract formation; and optic neuritis, the inflammation of the optic nerve.
Zinc may exert a protective influence by boosting the immune system. Many studies have shown that a zinc deficiency can impair a large variety of immune functions and defense mechanisms in animals, and some studies have shown similar effects in humans. These effects-which include abnormalities and eventual shrinking of the spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes; and impaired production of antibodies-have been found to be correctable with zinc supplementation.
Low zinc levels, often accompanied by high copper levels, have been reported in people with many types of cancer. We've known since 1981 that people with a certain type of lung cancer survived for a significantly longer period of time when they had high levels of zinc in their blood.
Since the beneficial effects of zinc on immunity are so well documented, and the therapy is nontoxic and inexpensive, some researchers suggest further studies involving immune deficiency diseases. Many of patients who get frequent colds and sore throats have shown a marked decrease in these outbreaks with zinc supplementation.