Zinc for healthy cell function
Zinc is a trace mineral, meaning that our bodies only need it in small amounts. But that doesn't mean it's not as important. In fact, zinc plays a major role in various aspects of our health, including supporting healthy cellular function. Our bodies are made of many cells. So, it goes without saying that cellular health is a key aspect of our wellbeing.
Keep reading to learn how zinc supports our cells.
Zinc and our cells
Did you know that there are over 30 trillion cells in the human body? Each of these cells work to carry out a variety of basic functions that we need to stay healthy. On the other hand, zinc is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body. This includes many vital cell functions such as cell replication and division, defence against free radicals, and DNA damage repair.
Cellular growth & division
Zinc is the most abundant trace mineral within the body, after iron and it can be found in every single cell within us. Naturally, this means that zinc plays a prominent role in our wellbeing.
From overall growth and development to the differentiation and function of immune cells, zinc can be found working hard in a variety of ways to support our cells. Studies show that the growth and development of our bodies heavily relies on zinc because of its role in cellular replication and division. Research suggests that zinc supplementation in infants and early childhood increases specific growth outcomes, which ultimately helps to support the growth and development of young children.
Additionally, since zinc is responsible for differentiating immune cells, it helps to regulate these cells and as a result strengthens the immune response. Studies also show that zinc plays a role in the activation of specific immune cells, further improving immune system health.
Free radicals & oxidative stress
Free radicals are molecules that have an uneven number of electrons and can cause harm to our cells when there are too many of them within the body. This means they cause chain chemical reactions with other molecules in the body, resulting in oxidation or oxidative stress. Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals. They do this by giving up one of their electrons to free radicals, ultimately neutralizing them.
Over time, oxidative stress can damage fatty tissue, DNA, and other proteins in the body, which can lead to the development of more harmful conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation. Zinc’s antioxidant abilities help fight against oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. This means that not having enough zinc in our system can make the effects of oxidative stress worse.
DNA damage repair
Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA for short, is found in every living organism, including humans. It’s essentially our genetic makeup and contains all the information our bodies need to function. DNA damage can come in many forms including oxidative stress, the breaking of DNA strands, and inflammation. Our bodies rely on zinc to help protect our cells in these situations. Studies show that even moderately increasing your intake of zinc can improve DNA health.
Research suggests that having sufficient zinc levels can help to significantly decrease the occurrence of DNA strand breaks, which can cause mutations within our cells and lead to cancer. This happens because zinc activates a protein called zinc-finger protein (ZnF), which is responsible for protecting the genome by repairing broken DNA strands. Additionally, with zinc having the ability to fight oxidative stress and in turn, reduce inflammation, our cells and DNA are in good hands when we have adequate zinc levels.
What happens to our cells when we don't have enough zinc?
Studies show that a lack of sufficient zinc levels can directly impact the wellbeing of our cells. Since zinc is needed for immune cell function and cell signaling, not having enough zinc in your body can result in a weakened immune response. Additionally, zinc is essential for the function of growth hormone IGF-1. Without enough zinc and reduced IGF-1 activity, our cells cannot replicate effectively, which directly impacts growth and development.
Reduced zinc levels can also make it harder to fight against free radicals and as a result, leave our cells with damage from oxidative stress. In fact, a zinc deficiency has been shown to increase oxidative stress, which directly causes DNA damage and may impair DNA repair processes.
Many of the processes that zinc has been known to fight against, such as oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, can be directly linked to cancerous conditions. Since zinc has the ability to not only improve cell mediated immune functions but also work as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, studies show that it can be an effective method for cancer prevention. Some studies also suggest that zinc supplementation can significantly halt the replication of specific cancer cells without affecting regular cells.
Zinc supports our wellbeing at the cellular level. From cell replication and function to fighting oxidative stress, repairing DNA damage, and working as a cancer prevention method, it is a critical nutrient for our health. Make sure your body is getting enough zinc through diet and supplementation.