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The Importance of Zinc

Zinc can be found throughout your body. It helps your immune system, helps your eye health, is important for wound healing, is involved in many different metabolic functions and even helps you with your sense of taste and smell.  Your body cannot make zinc so it must be obtained from food or supplements.

Recent studies show that if you are low in zinc, taking zinc lozenges or a supplement within 24 hours after cold symptoms start can help to shorten the length of time you are sick with a cold. However, don't use intranasal zinc, which has been linked with the loss of the sense of smell.

Zinc plays a really important role in the health of your skin and 20% of the body's total zinc is actually stored in the skin. For people suffering with leg ulcers, zinc could be the answer. Studies show that low levels of zinc can prevent the wounds from healing.

Macular degeneration is a long term condition of the eye which causes visual loss in the centre of your field of vision. In New Zealand, it affects 1 in 7 people over the age of 50 and is sadly the most common cause of blindness.  Early detection is key and is very easy. You can test yourself by using the simple Amsler grid available on . What does this all have to do with zinc though? Recent research shows that while supplementation with zinc cannot prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), it can be effective in helping to prevent progression in those with early, intermediate or advanced AMD.

In general, if you have low levels of zinc in your diet you might experience hair loss, diarrhoea, impotence, eye and skin problems and loss of appetite. You'll need at least 11mg of zinc per day if you are an adult male and 8mg as an adult female. However you will need more if you are already deficient.

Oysters are one of the best sources of zinc with a huge 5.5mg in each oyster. But many of us are not so fanatical about eating oysters on a daily basis, so we must look to other foods. Red meat is an excellent source of zinc with 4.8mg in a 100gram portion of mince and there is 3mg in a handful of pumpkin seeds or 150g of firm tofu. Supplements are also an easy way of including zinc.

With all of these great things that zinc can do why not just take loads of the stuff? The reason that we don't do that is like many things in life, zinc works on the Goldilocks rule. Too little is not good for you, but too much can lead to nausea, vomiting, headaches, etc. You'll need your zinc levels to be JUST RIGHT. Testing your zinc levels is a great way to find out what you need. Come in to Unichem Manly Pharmacy to get your zinc tested and we can find out what you really need.

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