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Zinc: Benefits for Females

The key to health, wellness and longevity is to take care of your body.

Being physically active, hitting the gym for cardio and strength training, and being conscious of food intake and nutrients is all key to looking and feeling good.

As an essential mineral, zinc is often discussed as one of the main players in this battle. And in this article we tell you exactly why as a woman you should be aware of what it can do for you.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is zinc?
  • What are the health benefits for females?

What is Zinc?

Zinc is a mineral ore found in the earth’s crust. Known by its elemental name Zn, zinc is a blue-grey metal that is brittle and hard.

It is used industrially to make alloys, batteries, paints, soaps and electrical equipment. It is an important all-round material.

But although it’s used commonly to make these products, it is an essential mineral for the human body too.

The average person holds around two grams of the metal in their muscles and bone tissue. After it is digested, Zn is absorbed in your small intestine and then taken up by your tissues as free-functioning ions.

Once you’ve taken everything you need from it, it is excreted via your kidneys, human waste and skin.

Zinc is an essential nutrient

Over 50% of the US are zinc deficient, and 10% don’t even get half of the daily recommended amount of the mineral [1].

You can’t manufacture your own zinc so it is essential that you get it from your diet. A number of foods contribute to your daily recommended allowance, although zinc supplementation is more popular than ever due to its ease and high absorption rate.

Foods highest in zinc include meat (because of the fact Zn is stored in muscle), organ meats and eggs, which are all great sources. The best source by far though is oyster which provides pretty much all of the zinc you need each day.

You’ll also find Zn in:

  • Legumes, beans and nuts
  • Other seafood such as shellfish
  • Dairy foods such as milk and cheese
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Fortified foods such as breakfast cereal

A range of shellfish and oyster foods on a dark grey table

The Benefits of Zinc for Females

If you don’t get sufficient Zn in your diet you run the risk of a number of issues. These include reduced taste and smell, increased risk of depression, low mood and reduced immune system functioning.

But get all of the zinc you need and as a female you’ll take advantage of the following benefits:

Improves the look of your skin

Zn is a powerful antioxidant found in every cell in the human body, including skin cells.

It has the ability to reduce the day-to-day damage caused by free radical oxidation as well as excessive exposure to the sun and whatever pollutants you’re exposed to on a daily basis.

Zinc also plays an important part in maintaining the integrity of lipid cells and collagen that give your skin a glowing, bouncy firmness. It also helps you recover from rashes, dry skin or an itchy scalp.

The wonder mineral Zn improves wound healing too. If you cut yourself or have a sore, blemish or pimple then it helps to speed up the repair process. Because it stimulates the production of new cells, it helps to replace damaged tissue, as well as decrease oil build up in the pores of the skin.

Better sex life

Zinc has a strong positive relationship with the hormone testosterone (in men for example, one of the main reservoirs of stored Zn is in the prostate).

But before you worry about increased testosterone leading to visions of square-jawed muscular female bodybuilders, don’t worry. Zinc won’t lead to excess muscle.

Testosterone is an important regulator of libido and sexual appetite in women as well as men. In fact there are a number of benefits of optimal testosterone for females.

These benefits range from increased fat burning and lean mass to more energy and more regular menstrual cycles. 

Current research suggests that as many as 49% of women have a low libido due to low testosterone levels [2]. This can affect sexual enjoyment, anxiety about having sex, low self-esteem and even low mood.

And because zinc supplementation is one of the few potent testosterone-boosting supplements [3] your libido will be sky high in no time.

Boosts your thyroid function

Not only does zinc boost your reproductive hormones, it can also optimize your metabolic hormones too.

Studies show that supplementing 3 mg per kilogram of body weight over a 4-week period led to not only an increase in testosterone but also in thyroid hormones too [4]. And this was even after repeated bouts of intense exercise.

And the fact that your thyroid controls everything from metabolic rate to energy regulation, Zn can also be linked to weight management and fat loss too.

Decreased risk of heart disease

Although cardiovascular disease develops around 7 to 10 years later in women, the number of heart attacks between 35 and 54 years of age in females has increased massively within the last two decades [5].

Apart from smoking and being overweight, one of the biggest modifiable risk factors for heart disease and cardiovascular illness is correcting zinc deficiency.

Studies have shown that when Zn levels are increased to normal amounts, both coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy risk decreases [6].

Regulates your menstrual cycle

Although on paper a typical cycle lasts 28 days, in reality you might find that your monthly period falls much shorter – or in some cases longer than this.

You might also find that your cycle is fraught with cramps and discomfort and you fear the time of the month because you know it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

As many as 90% of women experience cramps during their period. And for one-in-ten females, cramps can be so severe that it disrupts their normal routine.

Studies show that as little as one to three doses of 30 mg of zinc reduces the incidence and severity of cramps [7]. And although the mechanism of why is currently only speculative; it’s likely to do with the mineral’s powerful antioxidant and inflammatory properties.


Young woman holding a dumbbell doing a workout at home

Summary

As an essential element and mineral, zinc plays a number of biological roles in the human body.

For females, Zn has a number of specialized benefits that can improve overall wellness and health, as well as physical activity and performance.


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References

  1. Takeda, A et al. Insight into zinc signaling from dietary zinc deficiency. Brain Res Rev. 2009; 62(11): 33-44
  2. Allahdadi, KJ et al. Female Sexual Dysfunction: Therapeutic Options and Experimental Challenges. Cardiovasc Hematol Agents Med Chem. 2009; 7(4): 260–269
  3. Kilic, M et al. The effect of exhaustion exercise on thyroid hormones and testosterone levels of elite athletes receiving oral zinc. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006; 27(1-2): 247-52
  4. Kilic, M. Effect of fatiguing bicycle exercise on thyroid hormone and testosterone levels in sedentary males supplemented with oral zinc. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2007 ; 28(5): 681-5
  5. Maas, AH et al. Gender differences in coronary heart disease. Neth Heart J. 2010; 18(12):598-602
  6. Hashemipour, M et al. Effect of zinc supplementation on insulin resistance and components of the metabolic syndrome in prepubertal obese children. Hormones (Athens). 2009 Oct-Dec; 8(4): 279-85
  7. Eby, GA et al. Zinc treatment prevents dysmenorrhea. Med Hypotheses. 2007; 69(2): 297-301


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