Zinc is a trace mineral that supports a variety of functions in the body, including normal immune function, bone support, and vision support. Not getting enough zinc from the diet can lead to shortfalls—which is why getting the right amount of this essential mineral is so important.* (1, 2, 3)
That said, just knowing that zinc has health-supporting benefits isn’t enough—when it comes to maintaining appropriate zinc levels, there’s a lot more to consider, from varying life stages and assigned sexes at birth (men and breastfeeding people have higher recommended intakes than non-pregnant people, for example) to the best zinc-rich foods to incorporate.* (1) And that’s not even to mention where zinc supplementation fits in: Should everyone be doing it? What are some key indicators of quality? We’ll answer all that—and more—in this piece.
First up: What does zinc do?
Found in foods like oysters, beans, and nuts, zinc is a nutrient that helps support several important functions in the body. Like selenium and iron, it’s a trace mineral—and it’s typically thought of in relation to the immune system. That connection exists for good reason: Research shows that, among other things, zinc is a vitamin A-helper nutrient and helps support normal immune function and the maintenance of normal vision. Additionally, zinc plays a role in supporting protein synthesis and cell division* (1, 4)