What is zinc?
Zinc is a vital trace mineral required for a wide range of actions throughout the body. It is found primarily in animal sources, but can also be found in legumes, nuts, seeds and wholegrains1.
Zinc accumulates in body tissues over time, with the main storage sites being skeletal muscle, bones, the liver and skin. As an essential mineral, zinc needs to be replaced regularly through the diet and zinc losses occur every day regardless of health status.2
Why is zinc so important?
Zinc plays a major role in activating a variety of enzymes in the body. Enzymes are proteins that create chemical reactions, so without zinc many of these vital processes can’t take place.1
In order to maintain healthy skin and support wound healing, zinc intake needs to be optimal. In fact, skin contains nearly 6% of the body’s total zinc stores.3 Hair, skin and nails are all comprised of a protein called keratin that relies on zinc for healthy production.4
A healthy immune system requires zinc to perform important tasks such as keeping infections at bay.5
Zinc is vital to energy metabolism, which is the process of how the body produces energy from the foods we eat.6
Eimele’s source of zinc comes from synthesised zinc glycinate. Zinc glycinate is a combination of the mineral zinc and the amino acid glycine. Glycine helps to enhance the absorption of zinc in the digestive tract. Zinc glycinate has been shown to have a greater bioavailability compared to inorganic zinc compounds such as zinc sulphate.7
Zinc requirements can vary depending on a range of factors, including lifestage, health conditions and diet. The recommended daily intake (RDI) serves as a general guideline.
Men 19-70+ years 14mg/day
Women 19-70+ years 8mg/day
If you follow a vegan diet, the zinc recommendations are slightly higher to take into account the lower bioavailability of plant sources of zinc.
RDI for vegans
Men 19-70+ years 21mg/day
Women 19-70+ years 12mg/day
Excessive zinc intake can lead to toxicity, so an upper level of intake has been set out at 40mg/day.8
Why do you need to supplement zinc?
As one of the most prevalent deficiencies worldwide, around 17.3% of people are not getting enough zinc in their diet.9
Many people are at risk of inadequate zinc status for a variety of reasons. A wholefood, plant-based diet is likely to have a lower overall zinc intake - while there is zinc in plant foods, the bioavailability is less than in animal sources. This is due to the presence of phytates in plant foods - sometimes referred to as ‘anti-nutrients’, phytates can block the absorption of zinc by the body.1,8
Certain health conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders, can also impact the absorption of zinc.1,8
Interesting facts about zinc
- The Ancient Greeks had some idea of the power of zinc to heal the skin - it was used as an ointment on wounds and to help protect new skin.1
- Zinc is the second most abundant metal in the body and is required for nearly 100 important enzyme-based reactions.1,10
- Harvard School of Public Health. Zinc. Accessed July 2022 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/zinc/
- Maares, M. & Haase, H. (2020). A guide to human zinc absorption: general overview and recent advances of in vitro intestinal models. Nutrients, 12(3):762.
- Gupta, M., Mahajan, V.K., Mehta, K.S. & Chauhan, P.S. (2014). Zinc therapy in dermatology: a review. Dermatol Res Pract, 2014:709152.
- Betsy, A., Binitha, M.P. & Sarita, S. (2013). Zinc deficiency is associated with hypothyroidism: an overlooked cause of severe alopecia. Int J Trichology, 5(1):40-42.
- Prasad, A.S. (2008). Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Mol Med, 14(5-6):353-357.
- Yang, X., Wang, H., Huang, C., He, X., Xu, W., et al. (2017). Zinc enhances the cellular energy supply to improve cell motility and restore impaired energetic metabolism in a toxic environment induced by OTA. Nature, 7:14669.
- Liu, F., Azad, A.K., Li, Z., Li, J., Mo, K., et al. (2021). Zinc supplementation forms influenced by zinc absorption and accumulation in piglets. Animals (Basel), 11(1):36.
- National Health and Medical Research Council. Updated April 2014, accessed July 2022 from https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/zinc
- Wessells, K.R. & Brown, K.H. (2012). Estimating the global prevalence of zinc deficiency: results based on zinc availability in national food supplies and the prevalence of stunting. PLoS One, 7(11):e50568.
- Medline Plus. Zinc in diet. Reviewed November 2021, accessed July 2022 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002416.htm