How Zinc Affects Women's Health

How Zinc Affects Women's Health

How Zinc Affects Women's Health

Zinc is one of the most important minerals for women’s health. It’s essential for many functions within the body from bone, digestive and reproductive health to immune system regulation and more. So let’s talk about what makes zinc so important, what symptoms might indicate a deficiency and what foods and women’s health supplements can help keep your levels optimal.

Zinc Health Benefits

Bone health

Zinc is important for normal bone growth, development and maintenance with approximately 60% of zinc in the body found in the skeletal muscle and 30% in the bone.  (1).   

Immune system regulation

Zinc is important for many aspects of the immune system and it’s necessary for the development and function of immune mediating cells. Zinc has the ability to decrease oxidative stress and prevent free-radical cell injury when inflammation is present. This can not only help reduce the symptoms of the common cold but can also help reduce the risk of diseases that can occur from oxidative stress such as atherosclerosis, cancer, neurodegeneration, immunological disorders and ageing (2). 

Reproductive health

Zinc is essential for oocyte (ovarian eggs) maturation, making it vital for a healthy menstrual cycle and those trying to conceive (3). Zinc also helps regulate testosterone, which is helpful for women who experience polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), as well as endometriosis and severe period pain (4,5). 

Hormone regulation

Adequate zinc levels are also important to reduce the risk of insulin resistance, which can cause elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Zinc is essential for the synthesising, storing and secretion of insulin in the pancreas. Without sufficient zinc, the pancreas may not produce enough insulin or the insulin produced may not function correctly. Zinc also helps insulin bind to its receptors on the surface of cells and facilitate glucose uptake. 

Zinc, along with iodine and selenium, plays a crucial role in the synthesis, production and activation of thyroid hormones and can help prevent hair loss linked to thyroid conditions, while also promoting a more efficient absorption of zinc (6).

Digestive health 

Inadequate zinc can compromise the integrity of the stomach lining, which can increase the absorption of less-than-ideal nutrients/pathogens and decrease the absorption of important vitamins and minerals. This can lead to a variety of issues such as diarrhoea, food allergies, gastrointestinal cancers and inflammatory bowel disease (7–9).

Skin health

Zinc is important for many functions related to skin health, including collagen formation and wound healing. It’s also helpful in preventing inflammation. Low zinc levels have been linked to cases of acne when inflammatory papules are present, and ensuring adequate levels helps to reduce acne vulgaris (10,11).

Are you zinc deficient? 

Zinc deficiency is most common in pregnant and breastfeeding women as the demands increase during this phase of life. Specific medications or conditions that impact the normal function of the digestive system can also impact zinc levels by decreasing absorption.  

Zinc deficiency symptoms

  • Increase in viral infections
  • Low mood
  • Decrease in alertness (brain fog)
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Hair loss
  • Changes in skin and nail health
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Diarrhoea

If you suspect that you have a zinc deficiency, it’s important to seek the support of your health practitioner for testing to confirm your levels. Once you know your zinc status, you can choose women’s health supplements with an appropriate type and amount. Zinc supplements at high doses should not be taken long-term as this can lead to an imbalance of other important mineral levels such as iron and copper.

Zinc food sources and supplements 

Eating foods high in zinc daily can help keep your zinc levels in check. Great sources include: 

  • Oysters
  • Beef, pork and lamb
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chickpeas
  • Cashews
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms

If you don’t have a deficiency and are looking for ways to support your dietary intake, you can take a safe low-dose zinc supplement daily, such as ZMAG. ZMAG is a women’s health supplement that can help support energy levels, immune system function and hair, nail and bone health. It’s a great daily booster for women out there living their best lives.

The take-home message

Zinc is important for a wide range of functions in the body and a balanced diet including zinc-rich foods daily can help to ensure healthy bones, skin, immune function and digestive health. The question we should have asked in this article should have been what does zinc not do for women's health, that list would have been so much shorter!


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