25 Zinc Supplement Benefits, Uses & Impact-Boosting Habits

Explore the benefits of zinc supplementation for immune support and other health-boosting uses, supporting co-supplements and healthy habits.


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What is Zinc?

Zinc is a mineral that’s essential for good health. It’s involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism and is necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function, and many other processes. (source: National Institutes of Health)

In the human body, zinc plays a crucial role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. It’s also required for proper growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.

Zinc can’t be stored in the body, so it’s important to get a regular supply through diet or supplements. Foods high in zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, and dairy products.

What is Zinc good for?

Immune System Support

Zinc is a key player in maintaining a healthy immune system. It helps immune cells function and communicate, and it’s critical for the development and action of T-lymphocytes, cells that help the body fight off both bacteria and viruses. Adequate zinc levels can reduce the duration of common cold symptoms when taken within 24 hours of onset.

Zinc dosage for immune support is often around 75 mg per day when treating cold symptoms, but daily intake should not exceed 40 mg for adults to avoid toxicity. It’s best taken with food to enhance absorption, particularly with protein-rich foods that contain amino acids which aid in zinc uptake.

Wound Healing and Skin Health

Zinc plays a vital role in maintaining skin integrity and structure. Enzymes that require zinc help with the formation of collagen, a key component of skin tissue, and with cell proliferation necessary for healing. Zinc is used topically in creams for treating skin conditions like acne and diaper rash due to its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.

For skin health, zinc is not typically prescribed in high doses; a standard dietary intake of 8-11 mg per day is recommended. When used in creams or ointments, it should be applied as directed by a healthcare provider.

Reproductive Health

Zinc is essential for reproductive health in both men and women. It affects hormone balance and is crucial for the production and development of sperm. In women, zinc plays a role in all stages of reproduction, including the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and pregnancy.

The recommended dietary allowance for zinc is 11 mg per day for men and 8 mg for women, increasing to 11-12 mg during pregnancy and 12-13 mg while breastfeeding. It’s important for pregnant women to manage zinc intake carefully, as both deficiency and excess can harm fetal development.

Growth and Development

During periods of rapid growth, such as childhood and adolescence, zinc is essential for healthy development. It supports normal growth by ensuring proper cell division and protein synthesis. Zinc deficiency in children can lead to stunted growth and delayed sexual maturation.

Children and teens should consume age-appropriate amounts of zinc, which range from 3-8 mg for young children to 9-11 mg for adolescents. Zinc should be taken with food to improve absorption, ideally as part of a balanced diet that includes whole grains and vegetables. Please check with your child’s doctor before starting or changing their zinc supplement usage.

Age-Related Eye Health

Zinc is found in high concentrations in the eye and is believed to help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and vision loss. It’s thought to interact with other antioxidants, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation that can damage the retina.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study recommends a zinc dosage of 40-80 mg per day, combined with antioxidants like vitamins C and E, for those at high risk of developing AMD. This regimen should be followed under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Always check with your primary care provider before making any changes to your supplements.

Zinc benefits

  1. Immune Function Enhancement
    Zinc benefits the immune system by impacting various immune cells. For instance, it is crucial for the function and signaling of neutrophils and natural killer cells, and it supports the development of immune cells known as lymphocytes.
  2. Skin Health Maintenance
    One of the notable zinc benefits is its role in synthesizing collagen, an essential protein for skin health. Zinc also aids in the inflammatory response, helping to manage conditions like acne due to its antibacterial properties.
  3. Protein Synthesis Improvement
    Zinc acts as a catalyst in the protein synthesis process, which is fundamental for muscle repair and growth. It binds to proteins and helps enzymes perform their functions during the synthesis of new cells.
  4. DNA Synthesis Regulation
    Zinc is involved in DNA synthesis by stabilizing molecular structures that help DNA replicate and repair. This is essential for growth and development, particularly during pregnancy and childhood.
  5. Hormonal Balance Support
    Zinc influences hormone release and function, including thyroid hormones and sex hormones, which are vital for reproductive health and metabolism.
  6. Antioxidant Defense Strengthening
    Zinc benefits cellular health by fighting oxidative stress through its role in the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) system. This helps protect cells from damage by free radicals.
  7. Wound Healing Acceleration
    Zinc is involved in the process of wound healing by contributing to cell membrane repair, cellular proliferation, and inflammation control, which are all necessary for repairing damaged tissue.
  8. Cognitive Function Preservation
    Zinc plays a role in neurotransmission and is essential for maintaining the structure of proteins and cell membranes in the brain, which can influence learning and memory.

6 ingredients to combine with Zinc

Zinc is often paired with a variety of other supplement ingredients to enhance its benefits and address specific health concerns. Some of the most popular combinations include Zinc with Vitamin C for immune support, Zinc with Magnesium for sleep and muscle health, and Zinc with Copper to prevent potential imbalances. Other common pairings include Zinc with Calcium for bone health, Zinc with Iron for anemia, and Zinc with B Vitamins for energy and cognitive function. These combinations are sought after for their synergistic effects, with some being more prevalent due to their notable health benefits.

Vitamin C with Zinc Supplement

Vitamin C enhances the immune-boosting effects of Zinc, making the combination popular for reducing the duration and severity of colds. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of Zinc and acts as a potent antioxidant, protecting the body against oxidative stress. This combination is often recommended during cold and flu season to bolster the immune system.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare provider before taking high doses, as excessive Zinc can interfere with Copper absorption. There are no known dangerous interactions with prescription drugs, but it’s always wise to discuss supplement use with a healthcare provider.

Magnesium with Zinc Supplement

Magnesium and Zinc together are beneficial for muscle health and recovery, as well as for improving sleep quality. Magnesium helps with muscle relaxation and has a calming effect on the nervous system, which can enhance the restorative benefits of sleep. Zinc contributes to protein synthesis and tissue repair, which is crucial after physical activity.

This combination should be approached with caution in individuals with kidney issues, as both minerals can affect kidney function. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should adhere to recommended dietary allowances to avoid potential adverse effects.

Copper with Zinc Supplement

Zinc and Copper are often taken together to maintain a healthy mineral balance, as high doses of Zinc can lead to Copper deficiency. Copper is important for cardiovascular health and maintaining nerve cells, while Zinc is essential for immune function and wound healing. The balance between these two minerals is crucial for overall health.

It’s important to monitor the levels of these minerals, especially in older adults, as imbalances can affect health negatively. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should be particularly cautious, as both Zinc and Copper are important for fetal development. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Advocates for Zinc

Zinc is a mineral that’s important for good health, and many Health Providers recommend it for various reasons. Some well-known Health Providers who have shared their views on the benefits of zinc include Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Josh Axe, and Dr. Joseph Mercola.

Dr. Mark Hyman for Metabolic Health

Dr. Mark Hyman often discusses the role of zinc in metabolic health, including its impact on blood sugar control and weight management. In his book The Blood Sugar Solution, he highlights zinc’s importance in insulin function and how it can help prevent diabetes. Dr. Hyman’s approach integrates functional medicine with a holistic view of dietary nutrients.

Dr. Josh Axe for Hormonal Balance

As a certified nutrition specialist and chiropractor, Dr. Josh Axe frequently addresses hormonal balance and recommends zinc for its role in hormone production. In his book Eat Dirt, he discusses how zinc impacts hormone-related issues like acne and infertility. Dr. Axe’s holistic approach to health often includes dietary supplements like zinc.

Dr. Joseph Mercola for Longevity

Dr. Joseph Mercola, known for his alternative medicine advocacy, often speaks about the role of zinc in aging and longevity. On his website and in his book Fat for Fuel, he discusses how zinc influences the aging process and can help protect against age-related diseases. Dr. Mercola promotes a natural approach to health, with zinc being a key component.

10 Habits that Support Zinc Supplementation

To maximize the benefits of zinc, incorporating certain lifestyle habits can be highly effective. Here’s how you can support your health alongside zinc supplementation.
  1. Balanced Diet
    Including foods rich in zinc such as oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, and lentils can naturally boost zinc levels in the body. A diet that provides a variety of nutrients ensures that zinc works synergistically with other vitamins and minerals for optimal health.
  2. Regular Exercise
    Engaging in regular physical activity can help improve immune function and hormonal balance, both of which are supported by zinc. Exercise also enhances the body’s ability to absorb and utilize zinc effectively.
  3. Hydration
    Staying well-hydrated aids in the transport of zinc and other nutrients throughout the body. Adequate water intake is essential for kidney health, which is important for the regulation of zinc and other minerals.
  4. Stress Management
    Practices such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can reduce stress, which in turn helps maintain healthy zinc levels. Chronic stress can deplete zinc reserves, so managing stress is key to its preservation.
  5. Sleep Quality
    Ensuring sufficient and quality sleep supports the body’s use of zinc, particularly in its role in cell repair and cognitive function. Zinc plays a part in modulating sleep, so a good night’s rest can enhance its benefits.
  6. Sun Exposure
    Moderate sun exposure can increase vitamin D levels, which works with zinc to support bone health and immune function. Aim for 10-15 minutes of sun exposure several times a week.
  7. Alcohol Moderation
    Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to zinc deficiency. Limiting alcohol intake helps maintain zinc levels and supports overall liver health.
  8. Smoking Cessation
    Smoking can interfere with zinc absorption and overall immune health. Quitting smoking is a powerful step in preserving zinc levels and enhancing its therapeutic effects.
  9. Gut Health
    A healthy gut microbiome aids in the absorption of zinc. Consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and fermented vegetables can support gut health and zinc utilization.
  10. Antioxidant Intake
    Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, helps protect zinc-dependent enzymes that fight oxidative stress. This can enhance zinc’s role in maintaining cellular health.

Zinc Side Effects

Zinc supplements are generally safe when taken at the recommended dosages. However, taking high doses can lead to zinc toxicity, which can cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. Chronic high intake may also interfere with the absorption of copper, leading to a deficiency.

The tolerable upper intake level for zinc is 40 mg per day for adults. Exceeding this limit on a regular basis can result in the aforementioned side effects. It’s important to note that zinc nasal sprays have been linked to a permanent loss of smell, although this is a rare occurrence.

Individuals with kidney disease or certain other health conditions should be cautious with zinc supplementation, as their bodies may not process the mineral as efficiently. If you experience symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, fatigue, or changes in taste, these could be signs of excessive zinc intake and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

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