The coronavirus ravaged through the entire US population – vaccinated or not, you probably still contracted COVID-19. For most healthy people, COVID-19 is benign – similar to the common cold with some random and rather unexpected symptoms like lower back pain or loss of taste and smell. However, for the large number of Americans who are overweight and obese, COVID-19 can be a dangerous virus. A CDC study found that 79.1% of the patients that were hospitalized from COVID-19 were either overweight or obese. When patients are admitted to the hospital because of COVID-19, the treatment they receive is largely composed of supplements that we can buy at our local grocery store – namely, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and Zinc. As a CEO, your health is key to the health and longevity of your business. Why would you wait until you are already sick to take these supplements? This week we will focus on why you should incorporate Zinc into your daily health regimen. 

What is Zinc and why is it important? Similar to Iodine, Zinc is one of the 118 elements on the periodic table (Zn – Atomic Number 30). Zinc is a trace mineral – this means that the body only needs this mineral in small amounts. However, Zinc plays a critical role in many of our body’s functions – the immune system, the creation of DNA, healing damaged tissue, hormone balance, and our vision. Because it helps cells to grow and multiply, adequate Zinc is required during times of rapid growth, such as childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.

Let’s start with immune health. Zinc oversees many aspects of our immune system, hence why Zinc is one of the first things administered when a patient is hospitalized with COVID-19.  Zinc aids in the production and activation of T lymphocytes (T cells). If you are unfamiliar, T cells are cells created in our bone marrow that assist in protecting the immune system from infections and diseases. A number of studies have been done on the role Zinc plays in our immune system especially when we have contracted a bacterial or viral infection. A study from the NIH found that Zinc has the capacity to lower the duration of a common cold. During the study, when Zinc was administered within 24 hours from the onset of a cold symptom, the duration of symptoms was significantly reduced compared to the group that did not receive the supplement. 

As mentioned earlier, Zinc is essential for growth and development. During pregnancy, doctors recommend that women take Zinc to keep their immune system strong while also making sure that the baby gets enough for proper development. During pregnancy and especially during early childhood, it is critical for children to absorb Zinc into their bodies. Children who are deficient in Zinc oftentimes develop poor immune function, poor motor and cognitive development, behavioral problems, and reduced academic achievement. A recent study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that children who had sufficient levels of Zinc showed an increase in height and weight, particularly in children with low weight and height for their age.

A lesser known benefit of Zinc is the role it plays in wound healing. Zinc has healing properties and assists in the repair of mucosal membranes, fighting inflammation and infection, and promoting faster healing. During a 2017 NIH study, 60 individuals with a diabetic foot ulcer were either given a Zinc supplement or a placebo, and their healing progress was monitored. After the 12 weeks concluded, the patients who received the Zinc showed a significant reduction in ulcer size compared to the placebo group. If you have any sort of wound whether that be from a cut or a Diabetic foot ulcer, Zinc is a great supplement to take to expedite the healing process.

Similar to Omega 3 and Iodine, Zinc is an essential nutrient that our body does not generate on its own. Thus, we have to absorb Zinc through our diets. Foods that are rich in Zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, hemp and pumpkin seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs, and dark chocolate. Taking a supplement is a great way to ensure that you are getting enough Zinc. The recommended daily amount varies for age and gender, so make sure to check the back of the supplement label to ensure you receive the recommended dose. However, the standard recommended daily amount of Zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women.