Zinc – the motor for the enzymes

Zinc is contained in beef, peas and wheat

In terms of quantity, zinc is a minor mineral with a content of only two grams in the body. However, these two grams are essential for an intact metabolism as zinc is responsible for numerous functions in our body.

Its main function is the activation of enzymes. For more than 70% of all enzymes zinc is required as the “motor”; they are only activated with the help of zinc. Enzymes are like small catalysts: they facilitate any kind of reaction in the body.

The positive effect of zinc on the immune system can be seen from the fact that zinc influences wound healing. Furthermore, it is indispensable as a stabiliser for the cell walls, for storing insulin and for vitalising skin and hair.

Why is Zinc important for pregnant women?

Zinc is important for pregnant women due to its role in maternal health and overall development. There are a few reasons why zinc is particularly important during pregnancy:

1. Immune function: It plays a huge role in supporting the immune system which fights the infection and illnesses in the body.

2. Foetal development: Zinc is involved in the process of developing foetus which includes cell division, protein synthesis and DNA synthesis. Sufficient intake of zinc during pregnancy supports the growth and development in overall structure.

3. Maternal health: Zinc contributes to processes such as wound healing and hormonal regulation. 

How much Zinc do pregnant women need?

In the United States, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc during pregnancy is 11 milligrams (mg) per day for adult women, according to the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) established by the Institute of Medicine. 

Zinc and fertility

Zinc plays a critical role in reproductive health and fertility for both men and women. Here’s how zinc is involved in fertility:

1. Sperm health: Zinc is highly concentrated in the male reproductive system. Hence, zinc helps maintain the quality of the sperm cells and protects them from oxidative damage.

2. Hormone regulation: Zinc is involved in the regulation of various hormones, including testosterone and estrogen, which play huge roles in reproductive function.

3. Ovulation: Zinc deficiency may disrupt the normal hormonal balance and menstrual cycle which affects fertility in general.

4. Egg health: Zinc is involved in the development and maturation of ovarian follicles in women. Adequate zinc levels may contribute to the production of healthy eggs and support successful fertilization. 

How do you know if you have a Zinc deficiency?

1. Hair loss: As the hair follicles losses its optimum health due to deficiency, it may lead to hair loss.

2. Skin problems: Dry, flaky skin may occur with zinc deficiency.

3. Eye and vision issue: Vision problems such as night blindness may occur.

4. Loss of appetite: Due to changes in appetite regulation.

5. Delayed wound healing: Zinc is important for wound healing and repair of tissue. Lack of zinc in the body may result in delayed healing. 

Best food sources of Zinc

1. Meat: Beef, lamb, pork and poultry

2. Nuts and seeds: Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, cashews and almonds

3. Dairy products: Dairy foods like cheese, milk and yoghurt contains high level of zinc

4. Whole grains: Quinoa and rice

5. Shellfish: Oysters, crab, shrimps and lobsters 

Are Zinc supplements necessary?

In general, for most healthy individuals who consume a balanced diet may get enough supply of zinc. It also depends on individual’s dietary intakes and specific needs to dictate the amount necessary. 

Frequently asked questions on Zinc in pregnancy:

Are zinc supplements safe during pregnancy?

Zinc is considered safe for most women even during pregnancy. However, it is important to take note of the ingredients to consider any specific sensitivities and concerns. Should there be any concerns, it is important to seek professional consultation to know the specific needs for individual concerns. 

Can pregnant women take supplements when sick?

While zinc can be beneficial for certain illnesses, it is important to consult with healthcare provider before consuming any supplements. Generally, zinc is considered safe for pregnant women when taken within recommended doses. 

What are the benefits of zinc for pregnant women?

There are few benefits of zinc for pregnant women which includes foetal development, wound healing, immune function and maternal health.