Your body relies on zinc, a trace mineral found in protein-rich foods such as pork, beef and peanuts, for good health. You need several milligrams of zinc daily -- 8 milligrams for women and 11 for men, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Maintaining adequate intake of zinc is important because the body does not store the mineral efficiently. Taking vitamins that contain zinc can help maintain normal zinc levels, and , as a result, offer a range of health benefits. Consult a health care professional before taking zinc to treat a medical condition.
Zinc plays a role in the immune system's function by assisting the cells in the body responsible for fighting off viruses and bacteria. This mineral also helps maintain healthy skin. Low levels of zinc may increase a person’s risk of developing infections such as pneumonia or wound infections on the skin. Taking zinc supplements may help shorten the symptoms and duration of the common cold, but there is no proven evidence to support the efficacy of using zinc supplements.
Wilson’s disease is a rare medical condition that causes the body to store too much copper. The excessive amounts of copper may damage the nervous system and the liver. Symptoms of Wilson’s disease include jaundice, dementia, still arms and legs, a distended abdomen, slow movements, and tremors. Copper is in foods such as chocolate, nuts and shellfish. Taking zinc supplements may help treat Wilson’s disease because zinc helps block the absorption of copper in the intestinal tract, according to MedlinePlus.
Using zinc supplements may help a variety of skin conditions. Applying zinc directly to the skin may help treat acne, improve aging skin and ease the symptoms of a herpes simplex infection, which causes sores on the mouth. Zinc may help wounds heal, especially after surgery or a burn.
If you suffer from alcoholism, follow a vegetarian diet or you've had gastrointestinal surgeries, you face a relatively high risk of zinc deficiency. A deficiency in zinc may cause symptoms such as slow growth for children, impotence for men, hair loss, diarrhea, decreased appetite, weight loss, and a decreased sense of taste and smell. Taking zinc supplements under the supervision of a doctor may help improve these symptoms.
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