All you need to know about Zinc

How zinc improves your health and what are the main roles of this important trace element? Read what our Product Designer writes about this vital trace element.

Most of us starts to consume zinc when we want to fight the symptoms of the flu. But it is important to take care of the sufficient zinc intake around the year and a varied diet is the best way to take care of it. 

Zinc is an essential trace element, which is part of over 200 enzymatic reactions. Regular intake of zinc contributes to i.a. normal immune functions, wound healing, and cell division. Zinc also supports normal growth and development and it's said to contribute to proper senses of taste and smell.

Our bodies won't storage zinc, thus the daily intake is important. Specifically vegans need to look their daily zinc intake with particular attention. Zinc is naturally occurring in some foods. It is also added to many food products and available as a dietary supplement.

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How do I know if I suffer from zinc deficiency?

If you are always tired, you can’t concentrate on what you do, you get ill easily, or you suffer from hair loss, then it’s possible that your diet is poor in zinc.

Vegans and vegetarians, as well as pregnant women and older people are more prone to suffer from zinc deficiencies. Also those who suffer from ulcerative colitis and gastrointestinal disorders are in the risk group. 

Deficiency may occur also if you regularly drink alcohol or if you are on a hormonal replacement treatment.

The chronic deficiency of zinc is rare, if not caused by genetical disorder. Some of the symptoms for chronic zinc deficiency can be seen as problems in growth and development, sexual immaturity, chronic diarrhea and rash.

The most common symptoms of insufficient intake of zinc are:

  • weakened immune system

  • recurrent infections

  • mood change disorder

  • skin problems and hair loss

  • increase or loss of weight with no particular cause

  • nerve system problems

If you think you may suffer from zinc deficiency the best what you could do is to consume more zinc rich foods or use good quality and absorbable supplement to support the daily zinc intake.

You can always do a medical exam to know what are your levels of zinc, but notice that the results aren't always accurate. 

Continuously excessive zinc intake or overdose of zinc can be harmful for your health too. 

Health Benefits of Zinc

  • Zinc contributes to the immune system

One of the reasons why many people consume zinc is to strengthen their immune system. Zinc is also said to help with the symptoms and shorten the duration of the flu.

Zinc as a trace element stimulates certain immune cells and reduces oxidative stress in the body. 

For example, an overview of seven trials showed that 80-92 mg of zinc per day can reduce in up to 33% the duration of common cold. (1)

  • It helps with skin problems

Collagen is one of the most important protein for healthy skin, and zinc is known to support collagen synthesis. Zinc and collagen together are said to contribute to wound healing. Zinc supplementation may also be helpful for people with acne and skin problems.

  • Zinc supports healthy aging

Zinc can reduce the risk of age related diseases like pneumonia, infection and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

It reduces oxidative stress, which increases by aging and improves functioning of the immune system by increasing the activity of T cells, which help to protect your body from infections. (2)


  • Fights oxidative stress

Oxidative stress occurs all the time, but the excessive oxidation in cells is harmful for health. Toxic substances and smoking are said to increase oxidative stress in the body. Also aging and intensive training may cause oxidative stress. Anti-inflammatory foods, vitamins, antioxidants and trace elements like zinc help to fight against oxidative stress.

The most common symptom of oxidative stress is chronic inflammation, which is a contributing factor in a wide range of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and mental deterioration. Oxidative stress may also slow down muscle recovery. 

  • Increases fertility

Dietary zinc deficiency in men may affect testosterone levels which obviously can affect fertility and decrease libido and sexual desire. 

Zinc affects as well fertility in women and it's important for the growth of ovules. 

  • Improves the nutrient metabolism

Body's metabolism requires adequate levels of zinc.  Zinc is involved i.a. in decomposition of carbohydrates and in absorption of amino acids in your body.

Adequate levels of zinc helps not only your digestion but it also gives you more energy - thanks to production of glucose and the normal metabolism, which zinc contributes to.

  • Decreases the effects of chronic diarrhea

According to World Health Organization, diarrhea kills the astonishing amount of 1,6 million kids under 5 years old each year. 

And according to a publication in the medical journal PLOS Medicine zinc supplements are used during 10 days as an effective treatment against diarrhea. (3)

  • Zinc effects on memory and learning capacity

Zinc contributes to normal cognitive functions. A study of University of Toronto published in the journal Neuron, says that zinc has a crucial effect on the communication between neurons, affecting the formation of the memories and the way we learn. (4)

Foods rich in zinc:

· Sea food: raw oysters, crab, lobster and fishes that are eaten with bones.

· Animal products: milk products, beef, pork, reindeer meat and liver.

· Vegan sources: baked beans, wild rice, green peas, pecans, peanuts, whole grain, green vegetables, spinach, broccoli and cacao.

Zinc supplements

Those who can’t obtain enough zinc from their diet benefit from supplements. 

Zinc supplements are more effective taken 1 or 2 hours after eating.  Officially recommended average intake of zinc in the Nordic countries is around 9 mg for adults.

The tolerable upper limit of zinc for adults is 40 milligrams per day. Any amount greater than that this may cause side effects (zinc overdose), so talk to your healthcare provider before increasing your dose.

Eating foods rich in zinc is the best way to maintain adequate zinc levels, so supplements should only be used as backup if you can’t consume zinc on a regular basis. 

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