What Does Zinc Do for People?

Oysters contain a high amount of zinc.
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The body needs zinc for the proper functioning of all of its cells. This mineral is available as a dietary supplement or in natural food sources such as oysters, beef and poultry. The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements states that the recommended daily intake for adults is between 8 and 11 milligrams daily, and since the body has no storage system for zinc, it must be replaced daily.

Immune System

    Zinc benefits your body by boosting your immune system and protecting you from many illnesses. A review on zinc in the November 2009 issue of "Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care" states that adequate zinc intake helps fight off pneumonia, respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, tuberculosis, hepatitis and the common cold. Zinc is needed for the production of immune cells and is the molecule that enables the cells to communicate with each other.


    Chronic inflammation can damage the body's tissues and increase your risk of cancer, stroke and heart attack, according to the Dr. Oz medical-advice website. Inflammation involves a high number of cytokines, which are signaling molecules that are released from cells during the inflammatory process. A review published in the July 2012 issue of "Nutrients" states that supplementing with more than 45 milligrams of zinc daily lowers the body's production of cytokines, thereby reducing the risk of inflammation.


    Low levels of zinc in your body can put you at risk for various cancers, according to a review in the July 2012 issue of "Nutrients." Zinc plays an important role in cancer prevention and treatment and has been shown to be effective against liver, gallbladder, prostate, lung, pancreatic, uterine, cervical, breast and colon cancers. Researchers stated in the review that zinc helps fight and treat cancer by preventing the growth of new cancer cells and initiating cell death in preexisting cancer cells.

Blood Sugar and Cholesterol

    High blood sugar and high cholesterol fall under the umbrella term of metabolic syndrome. These conditions may eventually lead to kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Researchers at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka reviewed literature and studies on the effects of zinc on blood sugar and cholesterol. Their findings, published in the April 19, 2012 issue of "Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome," state that zinc exhibits the ability to improve your body's insulin response and lower blood sugar levels. It also helps to lower triglyceride and LDL -- or bad -- cholesterol levels while increasing HDL -- or good -- cholesterol.

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