Chelated zinc is a specially formulated type of zinc supplement, where the mineral is combined with amino acids. These amino acids ‘trick’ the human digestive system into recognizing the zinc as a nutrient to be absorbed, rather than an impurity to be ignored, and therefore chelated zinc shows much improved levels of efficiency and effectiveness when compared to other types of zinc supplement.
The mineral zinc plays a crucial role in a great many bodily processes, including those involved with the immune system, tissue regeneration, the digestive system, your sense of taste and smell, reproductive systems, and in controlling levels of blood sugar. Many enzymes depend on zinc in order to function, and anywhere up to three thousand of the tens of thousands of different proteins that make up our bodies require zinc in order to exist. It is a cornerstone of the process of protein synthesis, and can be found primarily in muscle tissue where the majority of newly synthesized protein is needed, as well as in the blood, eyes, bones, skin, and right throughout your body.
Zinc is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are needed to combat the effects of oxidants, also known as free radicals, which are a by-product of the process which releases energy from carbohydrate, protein and fats in the body. Free radicals, left unchecked, bind to and destroy healthy tissue cells, which can lead to a myriad of health problems, including the development of cancerous tumors. Therefore maintaining high levels of antioxidants in your daily dietary intake is a good way to reduce your risk of developing many types of tumor, as well as other conditions linked to free radical damage.
Many enzymes have zinc as a component, and some of these enzymes are responsible for critical processes such as DNA synthesis and hormone regulation. Some of these processes contribute to proper function of the immune system, so adequate levels of zinc are important for protection from infectious diseases.
Zinc can also be applied topically and is an effective antiseptic as well as an astringent. The topical application of zinc as both a medicine and a cosmetic dates back many thousands of years, though only recently have scientists discovered the processes behind many of its beneficial effects.
As is the case with many vitamins and minerals, zinc works in synergy with other elements in the body, sometimes supporting and being supported by other vitamins and minerals. For example, zinc is a component in the metabolizing of vitamin A and collagen, therefore zinc deficiency can lead to vitamin A deficiency. This is just one of many examples where a lack of one vitamin or mineral can inhibit the function of one or more other substances essential for the proper functioning of the body.
Zinc deficiency can occur when there is an inadequate dietary intake of the mineral, when it is unable to be effectively absorbed for whatever reason, or when some other medical condition causes zinc to be expelled from the body at an increased rate, such as menstruation or diarrhea. Zinc deficiency can present with diarrhea, skin eruptions and hair loss. Someone with a zinc deficiency may also notice an impairment in their eyesight, or their sense of taste or smell, and it can have a negative effect on mental function, particularly with regard to memory.
Other risks of zinc deficiency include impaired immune system and hormone regulation, which can have any number of consequences including the risk of developing further illness through infection. Zinc deficiency may also be a contributing factor in icidence of anemia due to iron deficiency. Diabetics are at increased risk of zinc deficiency, as are HIV positive people and anyone with an eating disorder.
Low levels of zinc have been linked in various studies to reduced male fertility, and to the development of attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or ADHD, in children. Very young children who do not have enough zinc in their diets are more prone to diarrhea than those who do.
Zinc can be obtained from a variety of common foodstuffs, including meat, dairy products, beans, nuts, seeds and wholegrain cereals. It is usually preferable to obtain nutrients from good, fresh whole food sources, but modern eating patterns do not always allow for this, which is why many medical professionals recommend supplementing with zinc, usually as part of a complete multivitamin approach.
Chelated zinc is zinc combined with amino acids, so that it can be more easily digested and absorbed into the human bloodstream. Chelated zinc is preferable to zinc sulphate, the most common form of zinc supplement, which shows a poor rate of absorption and can cause stomach problems. Zinc is also available over the counter in the form of lozenges which are used effectively to treat cold and flu symptoms.
The recommended daily amount of zinc is around 15mg for adults, though this can vary from person to person.
It is not recommended to excessively supplement with zinc in order to treat the symptoms of a deficiency, or remedy any other health problem. When taken in large amounts, zinc can prove counterproductive, impairing the immune system and inhibiting the absorption of iron, another essential mineral. Chelated zinc should not be taken at the same time as NSAID painkillers, as it can limit their effectiveness. Additionally, zinc is optimally absorbed when it is taken at least two hours from another mineral supplement, particularly iron, copper and phosphorous, which is one reason why chelated zinc is popularly taken in addition to a multivitamin supplement.
You should consult a medical professional if you experience prolonged symptoms of zinc deprivation, or if you have an adverse reaction after taking chelated zinc or any other supplement.
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