Zinc is necessary for the proper function of more than 70 enzymes in our bodies.

What are its health benefits?

Children need it to grow, men need it for balanced hormones and healthy sperm. We all need it to heal wounds and keep our immune systems in good working order.

Its other benefits include:

  • Because it enhances white blood cell functions, you’ll find it in many lozenges for colds and some over-the-counter cold remedies.
  • If you have allergies or environmental sensitivities, a zinc supplement might be useful.
  • It is beneficial for acne treatment.
  • Zinc helps to rid the body of harmful metals such as lead and cadmium, which could aggravate hypertension, atherosclerosis and heart disease.
  • It aids the release of insulin.
  • It keeps your senses of taste, sight and smell in good working order.
  • Low levels during pregnancy increase the risk of having a premature or low-birthweight baby.
  • Researchers from Makerere University in Uganda found that adding zinc to the antibiotic treatment of children with respiratory infections such as pneumonia significantly increased their chances of survival.
  • Studies suggest that zinc may help keep age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that gradually causes vision loss, from worsening into advanced AMD.

Do you have a deficiency?

A zinc deficiency is most likely in the elderly, diabetics and vegetarians. In children, it can cause slow growth and in puberty, it can lead to slow delayed sexual development. It can cause impotence in men.

Zinc deficiency signs include:

  • Susceptibility to infections
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhoea
  • Eye and skin sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • A decrease in your sense of taste

Find it in these foods

Zinc can be found in the following food sources:

  • Red meat
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Oysters
  • Crab and lobsters
  • Nuts
  • Yoghurt

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

On average, these are the recommended daily amounts for different age categories:

Birth to 6 months: 2mg
Infants 7-12 months: 3mg
Children 1-3 years: 3mg
Children 4-8 years: 5mg
Children 9-13 years: 8mg
Adolescent girls 14-18 years: 9mg
Adolescent boys 14-18 years: 11mg
Female adults: 8mg
Male adults: 11mg
Pregnant women: 11mg
Breastfeeding women: 12mg

When it comes to supplements, acne sufferers benefit from 200mg of zinc per day but only for limited periods.

Know the overdose risks

Excessive intake of it may cause the following side effects: 

  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches

Too-high doses can block the uptake of other nutrients, such as iron and copper.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

Shop for zinc on Clicks.co.za

If you'd prefer the convenience of purchasing zinc online, go here

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015