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41 Amazing Health Benefits of Zinc

Written by Aleksa Ristic, MS (Pharmacy) | Last updated:
Medically reviewed by
Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Aleksa Ristic, MS (Pharmacy) | Last updated:

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Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to peer-reviewed scientific studies. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc...]” means that the information is found within the full scientific study rather than the abstract.

Health Benefits of Zinc

Zinc has so many health benefits that it’s almost impossible to cover them all in one post. This mineral has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects; it’s essential for immunity, reproduction, mental health, skin health, cognitive function, and so much more! Read on to learn the amazing benefits of zinc.

What is Zinc?

Zinc is an essential mineral found in all organs, tissues, and fluids in the body [1].

As the second most abundant trace mineral in the body after iron, it plays a pivotal role in a variety of biological processes [2, 3].

Zinc is required for the catalytic activity of more than 300 enzymes involved in the synthesis and metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, nucleic acids, and other nutrients [4].

Zinc also plays roles in stabilizing cell and organ structures, immune function, wound healing, cell division, growth, blood clotting, thyroid function, vision, taste, smell, and more [5].

Zinc in a Diet: Food Sources and Deficiency

Despite having such critical functions, it is not stored in the body and requires a regular dietary intake [6].

Good dietary sources of zinc include [7]:

  • Red meat
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains

However, zinc is more easily absorbed from meat and animal proteins. Vegetables are not ideal sources because they contain phytate, a compound in plants that prevents zinc from being absorbed [8].

Because it plays such a critical role in the immune system, zinc deficiency contributes significantly to the global burden of disease, making it a major public health issue [9, 10].

Groups at risk for zinc deficiency include [11, 12]:

  • People with digestive disorders
  • Vegetarians
  • Pregnant and lactating women
  • Alcoholics
  • People with sickle cell disease

Health Benefits of Zinc

The benefits of optimal dietary zinc intake may not imply the same benefits of zinc supplementation for individuals who are not deficient.

Effective:

1) Zinc Deficiency

Oral or intravenous zinc supplementation can prevent and treat zinc deficiency of different origins. Cases that may require prompt intervention include [13, 14, 15]:

  • Severe diarrhea
  • Malabsorption
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Alcoholism
  • Renal failure

Likely Effective:

2) Diarrhea

Many studies showed that in infants and children in developing countries, zinc administration reduced the duration, severity, and incidence of acute and chronic diarrhea [16, 17, 18, 19, 20].

3) Wilson’s disease

Zinc supplementation is likely effective in treating Wilson’s disease, a disorder in which copper accumulates in tissues. It blocks copper absorption and increases copper elimination in the stool. Zinc acetate is an FDA-approved drug for Wilson’s disease [21, 22, 23].

Possibly Effective:

4) Acrodermatitis Enteropathica

People with acrodermatitis enteropathica (a genetic disorder affecting zinc absorption), experience skin irritation, hair loss, diarrhea, and high rates of infection. Zinc supplementation in therapeutic doses usually results in complete recovery [24, 25].

5) Heart Disease

Studies have shown that zinc levels are often low in people with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease, chest pain, and heart failure [26, 27, 28, 29, 30].

One study found that a higher rate of heart failure was associated with zinc deficiency [29].

According to one clinical review, high doses of zinc are able to prevent and treat angina (chest pain) in patients with atherosclerosis [29].

In a meta-analysis of 24 studies and 14,515 participants, zinc supplementation significantly reduced total cholesterol, LDL, and blood lipids. A reduction in these markers may lower the risk of heart disease [31, 32].

Scientists observed the potential of supplemental to protect the heart from stroke-related injuries in rats and mice [27].

6) Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Zinc ions can bind to insulin receptors and activate insulin signaling pathways [33, 34, 35].

By mimicking insulin, zinc reduces excessive insulin secretion by pancreatic cells, which helps protect the pancreatic tissue from damage [36, 37].

Because of zinc’s essential role in the processing, storage, and secretion of insulin, a deficiency can lead to increased insulin resistance [38, 39].

Studies found that prediabetic and diabetic patients were more likely to be zinc deficient [39, 40].

Studies in women report that higher dietary zinc intakes may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes [41, 40].

A meta-analysis of 22 clinical trials confirmed significant benefits of zinc supplementation for blood sugar control and insulin function [42].

Zinc may also decrease the severity of diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain), oxidative stress, and cholesterol/triglyceride levels in type 2 diabetic patients [43, 44, 42, 45].

7) Skin Health: Acne, Warts, Skin Damage

Zinc, both oral and topical, can benefit a variety of skin conditions (e.g., acne, warts, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, melasma, and dandruff) [24].

In people with acne vulgaris, zinc-supplemented groups (orally) showed a significant improvement in symptoms when compared with placebo groups [46, 47, 48, 49].

Clinical trials in patients with viral warts resulted in a complete clearance of warts for a majority of zinc-treated individuals, orally and topically [50, 51, 52].

Zinc exhibits similar efficacy in treating Herpes genitalis (genital warts caused by Herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and 2) [53, 54].

A study in people with rosacea (a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by flushing, small blood vessels, and red bumps on the face) showed that oral zinc was able to reduce disease symptoms [55, 24].

Zinc supplementation exhibits similar efficacy in treating other inflammatory skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema, likely owing to zinc’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, the results are less convincing [56, 57, 24].

Zinc may also treat seborrhoeic dermatitis (dandruff). Studies show that shampoos containing zinc can significantly reduce the scaling and inflammation associated with dandruff [58].

Zinc also protects against sun damage to the skin, which can cause skin aging and cancer. A study in humans found that a sunscreen containing zinc was more superior than titanium oxide in providing protection against ultraviolet (UV) irradiation [59, 60].

8) Depression

In a meta-analysis of 17 trials and 2400 participants, low blood levels of zinc were associated with more severe depressive symptoms [61].

Dietary intake of zinc was inversely associated with depression rates in another meta-analysis of nine studies [62].

Zinc supplementation significantly improved the efficacy of standard treatment with antidepressants in three trials of 118 patients [63, 64, 65].

When given to 30 young women with impaired mood, zinc significantly reduced anger and the symptoms of depression [66].

A study found that zinc therapy was able to improve overall mood in 46 overweight subjects, likely through increasing BDNF levels [67, 68].

9) Appetite and Anorexia Nervosa

One of the earliest signs of a zinc deficiency is a loss of appetite [69].

Clinical studies in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) show a significant association between the disease and low blood zinc levels [70, 71].

Many trials with oral zinc supplementation reported an increase in weight gain, muscle mass, appetite, taste sensitivity, and food intake in AN patients [72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77].

In one study on rats, zinc supplementation was able to rapidly stimulate food intake (by increasing orexin and neuropeptide Y) [78].

10) Immunity & Infections

Zinc is essential for the normal development and function of many immune cells [79].

Because of the critical role it plays in the immune system, even a mild deficiency can impair immune function and increase the risk of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infection [80].

In clinical states associated with immunodeficiency (e.g., sickle cell disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection) and in the elderly, zinc supplementation can restore natural killer cell activity, lymphocyte production, and resistance to infections [81, 82, 83, 84].

Studies in HIV patients with low blood zinc levels reveal that chronic supplementation is associated with lower opportunistic infections and a reduced risk of immunological failure [85, 86]. However, supplementation must be exercised with caution as excessive zinc may worsen disease symptoms [87, 88].

In malnourished infants and children in developing countries, zinc administration reduced the duration, severity, and incidence of diarrhea, respiratory infections, and malaria [16, 17, 18, 19, 20].

Similar beneficial effects were reported for other infectious diseases in humans including shigellosis, leprosy, tuberculosis, leishmaniasis, hepatitis C, and the common cold [89, 90, 91].

On the other hand, excessive levels may suppress immunity. A study in healthy young men revealed that high doses of zinc reduced several immune functions, including activation of lymphocytes and phagocytosis of neutrophils [92].

Zinc supplementation may boost the immune system and combat infections, but its efficacy may be limited to malnourished individuals with zinc deficiency.

11) Common Cold

Owing to its immune-boosting properties, zinc is among the most popular supplements for a common cold.

Indeed, most clinical trials and reviews show a significant decrease in the duration of symptoms in adults. Zinc gluconate or zinc acetate supplements with 9-24 mg of elemental zinc per dose have shown the best results, when initiated within the first 24 hours [93, 94, 95].

However, the research is less convincing when it comes to using zinc for common cold prevention [96, 97].

12) ADHD

According to a study of 48 children, low serum zinc levels may be associated with the symptoms of ADHD [98].

In a trial of 400 children with ADHD, zinc supplementation was “significantly superior to placebo in reducing symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and impaired socialization” [99].

In combination with standard treatment, zinc supplementation reduced hyperactivity and impulsivity in 44 children with ADHD [100].

Zinc was particularly effective in obese children with zinc deficiency. The potential benefits for children with adequate zinc status are less clear [99].

13) Eyesight

Age-related macular degeneration, a major eyesight issue in the elderly, is believed to be caused by oxidative stress. Clinical studies have found that zinc supplementation can slow the progression of the disease, possibly by preventing oxidative damage to the retina [101, 102, 103, 104].

Most studies used zinc in combination with other antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E, which likely contributed to the results.

Preliminary research suggests that zinc may protect against diabetic retinopathy. This is because of zinc’s ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (through inhibition of NADPH oxidase and NF-κB) [105].

Night blindness is one of the earliest symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. A study found that zinc was able to enhance the effect of vitamin A in restoring the night vision of pregnant women with low zinc levels [106].

14) Cognition

Zinc supplementation was able to enhance cognitive recovery in 26 zinc-deficient stroke survivors [107].

Zinc supplementation resulted in superior neuropsychological performance, particularly attention and reasoning skills in a study of 372 children [108].

In studies of almost 300 malnourished infants and toddlers, zinc supplementation led to increased activity as well as mental and motor development [109, 110, 111].

On the other hand, zinc supplementation improved growth but failed to improve cognition in 16 zinc-deficient children [112].

Maternal zinc supplementation enhanced spatial learning and memory in rat pups [113].

Further well-designed clinical trials should investigate the benefits of zinc supplementation for cognitive development in infancy and childhood.

15) Allergy and Asthma

A study showed that zinc supplementation improved symptoms (e.g., cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath) in 284 children with asthma [114].

Low blood zinc levels may be linked to more severe asthma symptoms in some children [115].

Zinc was also able to reduce airway inflammation and over-sensitivity in mouse models of allergic inflammation and asthma [116, 117, 118].

In response to grass pollen, zinc increased regulatory T-cells and decreased proliferation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) isolated from allergic subjects [119].

More research is needed before proclaiming zinc a safe and effective supplement for asthma and allergies.

16) Wound Healing

Zinc deficiency is linked to delayed wound healing in some patients [120].

Adhesive tape with zinc enhanced the repair of skin ulcers in a study of 44 diabetic patients [121].

Two studies of 58 participants show that zinc administration (oral or intravenous) may speed up the healing process after surgery or burns [122, 123].

When applied topically, zinc oxide improved wound healing in rats and pigs [124, 125].

17) Bone Health

Prenatal zinc supplementation in 240 pregnant women from a poor region significantly improved bone development in their babies [126].

In 32 young people with thalassemia (blood disorder) and 147 girls, zinc supplementation improved bone density [127, 128].

Another study revealed that zinc supplementation increased bone formation markers (i.e., ALP, BAPE, and BAP-M) in healthy men [129].

In lab animals and test tubes, zinc was able to increase bone density and strength by enhancing bone formation and preventing bone loss [130, 131, 132, 133].

18) Hair Loss

In a clinical study of 200 bald men, topical zinc was able to improve hair growth. Additional research suggests that zinc’s antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects on the scalp are potentially involved in the increase of hair density [134, 135, 136, 137, 138].

Another study in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) showed that zinc supplementation had beneficial effects on a number of symptoms, including alopecia (hair loss) [139].

Zinc treatment also reversed hair loss in patients who underwent vertical gastroplasty (stomach stapling), a surgical operation that can result in zinc deficiency [140].

19) Kidney Disease, Hemodialysis

Restoring zinc levels in chronic kidney disease patients on hemodialysis can improve overall kidney function and reduce many complications associated with the disease (e.g., heart disease, anemia, infections, and sexual dysfunction) [141, 142, 143].

The effects are likely achieved by reducing inflammation, oxidative stress, and cholesterol, as well as by enhancing hemoglobin, sex hormones (i.e., testosterone and LH), and immune function [144, 145, 146].

20) Pregnancy Outcomes

Low blood zinc levels are associated with pregnancy complications (e.g., spontaneous abortion, pre-eclampsia, extended pregnancy, preterm birth, and abnormal fetal development) [147, 148, 149].

Studies have shown that maternal zinc supplementation (in zinc deficient or underweight women) can reduce the risk of preterm birth and protect against fetal damage from alcohol exposure [150, 148].

A study found that Indian mothers receiving supplemental zinc had longer gestational periods (pregnancy times) and babies with healthier weights [151].

Another study in pregnant women (with low blood zinc levels) found that zinc supplementation (25 mg/day) during the second half of pregnancy significantly increased infant birth weights and head circumferences [152].

It is proposed that these beneficial effects are a result of its ability to inhibit embryonic cell death, increase growth factors (e.g., IGF, PDGF, and FGF), and reduce oxidative damage, all of which help promote healthy fetal development [147, 153, 154].

Most studies included malnourished and zinc-deficient mothers. It’s not clear whether zinc supplementation would provide the same benefits in mothers with normal zinc status.

21) Stunted Growth

In a number of studies, zinc supplementation produced significant beneficial effects on both height and weight measures of children, especially in underweight, malnourished children suffering from stunted growth [155, 156, 157].

A dose of 10 mg of zinc daily for 24 weeks increased net growth around 0.37 cm (in height), compared to children treated with placebo [156].

Maternal and infantile zinc supplementation increased weight and muscle mass in two studies in developing countries [158, 159].

22) Women’s Health

Zinc deficiency is associated with hormonal imbalances that can lead to ovarian function problems, menstruation irregularities, and infertility [149].

Several studies have found that oral zinc administration (in combination with mefenamic acid and alone) was able to reduce the severity and duration of menstrual pain in women [160, 161, 162].

Studies have found that zinc supplementation in women with PCOS can reduce insulin levels and improve disease symptoms (e.g., body hair growth and balding) [163, 139].

Women with endometriosis (a condition where the tissue inside the uterus grows outside of the uterus) exhibit low blood zinc levels [164].

One study reported that an intake of antioxidants (i.e., vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc) was inversely correlated with the severity of endometriosis progression in women, indicating that zinc may slow the development of this disorder [164].

23) Liver Protection

In 60 patients with non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis, supplemental zinc improved liver function and prevented excessive copper accumulation, which can damage the liver [165].

It was able to improve liver function, based on alkaline phosphatase and bilirubin levels, in 30 patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis [166].

Zinc supplementation in animal models of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) protected the liver by blocking most mechanisms of liver injury (i.e., gut leakage, endotoxemia, oxidative stress, excess inflammatory cytokine production, and liver cell death) [167, 168, 169, 170].

Zinc improved the outcome of 62 patients with hepatitis C which, if left untreated, can lead to liver scarring [171, 172].

24) Hearing Disorders

People with tinnitus (ringing in the ears) have lower levels of zinc in the blood [173, 174].

In a trial of 41 participants, zinc supplementation (50 mg/day for two months) was able to reduce the severity of tinnitus in 82% of patients [173].

In another study, the addition of zinc to oral corticosterone was associated with a greater improvement in symptoms in 66 people with a sudden hearing loss (from unknown reasons) than by corticosterone alone [175].

Otitis media (OM) is an infection of the middle ear. The effects of zinc supplementation on OM are mixed; the benefits may be limited to malnourished children with zinc deficiency [176].

Zinc deficiency is linked to impaired hearing in mice and rats, which can be improved with zinc supplementation. This is likely a result of zinc’s protective effects against toxins in ear structures [177, 178, 179, 180, 181].

25) Oral Health

Zinc deficiency can lead to excessive plaque formation and worsen the inflammatory process in gum disease (from increased production of IL-1) [182, 183].

Zinc-based mouthwashes were found to be effective in reducing plaque growth [183].

Similarly, a study in children from low-income areas found that a daily intake of 15 mg of zinc for ten weeks was associated with reduced plaque formation on the teeth [184].

Zinc-containing toothpaste, mouthwash, and gums may also help with gingivitis (gum inflammation) and bad breath [185, 186, 187].

26) Body Odor

Bromhidrosis (body odor) is usually associated with an increased bacterial flora in the armpit region, mainly consisting of Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium species [188].

Because of its antibacterial action, topical zinc has shown efficacy in reducing armpit and foot odor in clinical studies [189, 24].

Insufficient Evidence:

No valid clinical evidence supports the use of zinc supplements for any of the conditions in this section. Below is a summary of up-to-date animal studies, cell-based research, or low-quality clinical trials which should spark further investigation. However, you shouldn’t interpret them as supportive of any health benefit.

27) Alzheimer’s Disease

In 30 Alzheimer’s disease patients, zinc supplementation protected against cognitive decline by lowering blood copper levels and improving zinc nutritional status. According to the authors, copper toxicity may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s [190, 191].

In different animal studies, zinc was neuroprotective in moderate concentrations, and it helped preserve learning and memory function [192, 113, 193, 194, 195, 196].

In a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, zinc supplementation reduced pathological factors associated with progression of the disease (i.e., β-amyloid and tau protein loads). It also improved mitochondrial function and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in the hippocampus [192].

28) Male Fertility

Seminal zinc concentration was positively correlated with sperm count, motility, and viability in different clinical trials [197, 198, 199].

This is likely because of zinc’s role in stabilizing the cellular membranes and DNA (by reducing oxidative damage) of sperm cells and enhancing spermatogenesis (formation of new sperm cells) [200, 201, 202].

In infertile men (with low blood testosterone), supplemental zinc led to an increase in sperm count, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and fertility [203].

Low to moderate doses (12 – 120 mg/kg) of zinc intake appeared to enhance reproductive function in rats [204].

Zinc is highly concentrated in the prostate and testes and is involved in the synthesis of testosterone [205, 206].

In rats, zinc was able to preserve testicular function (as measured by testicular weight, sperm concentration, and testosterone levels) in response to oxidative stress induced by cigarette smoke [207].

29) Fatigue

One study found that blood zinc levels were significantly lower in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients and that symptom severity was negatively correlated with blood zinc levels. The study concluded that zinc may be effective in attenuating CFS symptoms because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [208].

Gut inflammation (caused by a leaky gut) is common in people with CFS [209].

A study found that treating leaky gut with a mixture of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances including zinc in CFS patients resulted in a significant improvement of symptoms [210].

30) Blood Clotting

Lab studies show that zinc is involved in regulating pro-thrombotic (clot forming) and anti-thrombotic (clot-preventing) factors derived from platelets and the blood vessel lumen [211, 212].

Hyperzincemia (high levels of zinc in the blood) can cause blood clotting while hypozincemia (low levels of zinc in the blood) leads to prolonged blood clotting times. Both conditions cause impairments in platelet aggregation and abnormal bleeding [212].

One study revealed that restoring zinc levels in zinc-deficient men led to normalized platelet aggregation and blood clotting time [213].

31-32) OCD and Schizophrenia

A study in OCD patients showed that the addition of zinc to fluoxetine therapy was able to reduce symptoms [214].

Its ability to suppress glutamate release and transmission may have contributed to the improvement [215, 216].

A study in schizophrenic men found that zinc in combination with risperidone improved many symptoms associated with the disorder (e.g., aggression, hallucinations, and delusions). This effect is in part attributed to its antioxidant and antidepressant properties [217].

The available evidence for the effects of zinc supplementation on OCD and schizophrenia is far from conclusive.

33) Digestive Disorders

Zinc deficiency has detrimental effects on the gut lining of animal models and humans in a variety of gastrointestinal diseases (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea, cancer, alcohol toxicity, and colitis). In most cases, zinc supplementation can provide improvement [218].

In rats and mice, scientists tested its ability to stabilize the gut mucosa and reduce injuries by enhancing gut repair processes in rats and mice [219].

Zinc also protected the intestinal mucosa from alcohol-induced damage in rats and mice. It can prevent gut leakiness, which may reduce the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease [220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225].

A study in patients with dyspepsia (indigestion) found that inflammation in H.pylori-induced stomach cancer was negatively correlated with zinc concentration [226, 227].

34) Seizures

Several studies reported a marked decrease in blood zinc levels of patients with intractable epilepsy [228, 229, 230].

In one study, zinc therapy significantly reduced the frequency of seizures in 31% of the treated children [231].

Scientists examined the potential of zinc supplementation to reduce seizure frequency in rats [232].

35) Thyroid Function

In lab animals and test tubes, zinc deficiency was associated with a decline in thyroid function (due to low levels of triiodothyronine (T3) and free thyroxine (FT4)) [233, 234].

In 134 disabled hypothyroid patients under anticonvulsant therapy (with mild to moderate zinc deficiency), zinc supplementation was able to normalize thyroid hormone levels in the blood (i.e., T3 and FT3) and restore thyroid function [235].

A study on 25 children with Down’s syndrome suggested similar effects of supplemental zinc

Zinc supplementation was also to reverse the damaging effects of computer monitor-emitted radiation on the thyroid hormone levels of computer workers [236].

More research is needed to determine the effects of zinc supplementation on thyroid function in a general population.

36) Chemotherapy Side Effects

Mucositis (ulceration of mucous membranes) is a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy [237].

Studies in patients who underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy found that zinc supplementation was able to reduce the severity of oral mucositis [238, 239].

Dysgeusia (distortion of taste) and dysosmia (distortion of smell) can also occur during chemotherapy [240].

A study found that a daily intake of 100 mg of zinc for 4-6 months improved dysgeusia and dysosmia symptoms in patients with carbonic anhydrase VI (gustin) deficiency [241].

Zinc can stimulate the production of carbonic anhydrase VI, an enzyme in the saliva that is involved in taste bud growth [242].

37) Developmental Disorders

In a study of 79 autistic children, the severity of symptoms (i.e., awareness, hyperactivity, receptive language, focus and attention, eye contact, sound sensitivity, tactile sensitivity, and seizures) decreased after zinc and vitamin B6 supplementation. The children had high copper levels which reduced upon supplementation [243].

The lack of placebo control makes the results of this study questionable.

Prenatal zinc treatment prevented autism-like behaviors (e.g., induced social deficits, repetitive behaviors, and cognitive inflexibility) in rat offspring, indicating a possible link between its deficiency and autism development [244, 245].

In one study on adult mice, scientists observed the potential of zinc supplementation to prevent the development of autism-related behavior [246].

The available evidence is far from conclusive and doesn’t suggest the use of zinc supplements for developmental disorders. Further research should examine the connection between zinc and copper status, zinc supplementation, and ASD.

38) Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions (e.g., obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol) that can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes [247].

A study in 60 children with metabolic syndrome found that zinc supplementation decreased insulin resistance, oxidative stress, inflammation, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body mass index [248].

The results warrant further investigation.

39) Sleep Quality

Women and children with higher blood zinc concentrations have better sleep quality, according to some researchers [249, 250].

Two studies in infants revealed that zinc supplementation was able to prolong sleep duration. However. ⅓ of the children had stunted growth and were likely zinc-deficient [251].

More research should determine the relationship between zinc status and sleep quality.

40) Opioid Addiction

Opioid users exhibit lower levels of zinc [252, 253, 254, 255].

Studies in mice and rats found that zinc reduced the dependence intensity of morphine (an opioid), while zinc chelators intensified withdrawal symptoms [256, 257, 258].

Based on these results, a literature review article suggested that zinc supplementation may reduce the risk of addiction in humans taking opioids for chronic pain, because of zinc’s pain-relieving effects and low toxicity. Clinical trials are needed to confirm this [258].

41) Physical Performance

A study in 10 wrestlers found that heavy exercise can significantly deplete thyroid hormones and testosterone levels, which can lead to exhaustion. However, zinc supplementation was able to prevent this loss and benefit athletic performance [259].

We can’t make any reliable conclusions based on a single small trial like this one.

Animal and Cellular Research (Lacking Evidence)

No clinical evidence supports the use of zinc supplements for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.

In animal studies and test tubes, researchers have been investigating the potential benefits of zinc supplementation and optimal zinc levels for:

Further Reading

Zinc: Dosage, Interactions, Side Effects, Mechanisms of Action, and Testing

Where to Buy

Irregular Zinc Levels?

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About the Author

Aleksa Ristic

MS (Pharmacy)
Aleksa received his MS in Pharmacy from the University of Belgrade, his master thesis focusing on protein sources in plant-based diets. 
Aleksa is passionate about herbal pharmacy, nutrition, and functional medicine. He found a way to merge his two biggest passions—writing and health—and use them for noble purposes. His mission is to bridge the gap between science and everyday life, helping readers improve their health and feel better.

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