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Zinc Supplements Are Sometimes a Good Idea

Men's Health Logo By Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D. of Men's Health | Slide 1 of 5: Twenty years ago I entered into my master's degree program in nutrition. While I learned about all things nutrition from broad perspective, my thesis focused on one specific mineral and its effects on metabolic rate: zinc.There wasn’t much to write home about with what we discovered, though as my advisor always reminded me, learning there’s no effect isn’t a waste. Zinc supplements won't turn you into a metabolic machine any more than oysters (the richest source of zinc) are an aphrodisiac. That said, there's a whole lot to like about zinc when it comes to nutrition.Zinc is an essential mineral with widespread functions throughout the body. Zinc helps your immune system function properly. Zinc aids in wound healing. Zinc is even important in helping you smell and taste.Your body can't make zinc, so you have to consume it in order to get the 11 milligrams daily recommended for healthy men. In addition to oysters, you'll find good doses of zinc in red meat, fish, chicken, dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals, whole grains, and legumes, to name a few. Even though you can find zinc in a variety of different foods, Americans often fall short in eating enough of the nutrient. That might make you wonder: Should you take a zinc supplement? Particularly during cold and flu season?“Zinc is a required mineral for humans” says Stella Volpe, Ph.D., R.D.N., a professor at Virginia Tech (who also happened to be my M.S advisor). "Zinc supplementation has not been shown to prevent colds or the flu, but it has been shown to decrease the duration of symptoms from the common cold (this was found in adults, but not in children).”The supplements that follow all from reputable companies offering quality ingredients that you can ensure meet label claims. Do remember, though “If you are consuming a diet that has the required amount of zinc in the diet,” Volpe says, “then supplementation will likely not give you an added boost.”Supplementing with one ingredient and hoping to have miracles happen, will never work. Vitamin B-E-D (that’s how I spell sleep), overall nutrition, movement, stress and so much more all play a bigger role than any single ingredient, even when there is some promise.

Twenty years ago I entered into my master's degree program in nutrition. While I learned about all things nutrition from broad perspective, my thesis focused on one specific mineral and its effects on metabolic rate: zinc.

There wasn’t much to write home about with what we discovered, though as my advisor always reminded me, learning there’s no effect isn’t a waste.

Zinc supplements won't turn you into a metabolic machine any more than oysters (the richest source of zinc) are an aphrodisiac. That said, there's a whole lot to like about zinc when it comes to nutrition.

Zinc is an essential mineral with widespread functions throughout the body. Zinc helps your immune system function properly. Zinc aids in wound healing. Zinc is even important in helping you smell and taste.

Your body can't make zinc, so you have to consume it in order to get the 11 milligrams daily recommended for healthy men.

In addition to oysters, you'll find good doses of zinc in red meat, fish, chicken, dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals, whole grains, and legumes, to name a few. Even though you can find zinc in a variety of different foods, Americans often fall short in eating enough of the nutrient. That might make you wonder: Should you take a zinc supplement? Particularly during cold and flu season?

“Zinc is a required mineral for humans” says Stella Volpe, Ph.D., R.D.N., a professor at Virginia Tech (who also happened to be my M.S advisor). "Zinc supplementation has not been shown to prevent colds or the flu, but it has been shown to decrease the duration of symptoms from the common cold (this was found in adults, but not in children).”

The supplements that follow all from reputable companies offering quality ingredients that you can ensure meet label claims. Do remember, though “If you are consuming a diet that has the required amount of zinc in the diet,” Volpe says, “then supplementation will likely not give you an added boost.”

Supplementing with one ingredient and hoping to have miracles happen, will never work. Vitamin B-E-D (that’s how I spell sleep), overall nutrition, movement, stress and so much more all play a bigger role than any single ingredient, even when there is some promise.

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