Zinc is a trace mineral we all need to have in our diets to support healthy immune function, along with several other health benefits. But it’s particularly important for people who have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes or pre-diabetes.
You may not even realize you aren’t getting enough zinc in your diet. With dozens of other vitamins and minerals you need to be worried about getting, chances are zinc hasn’t been on the top of your list of concerns. But now’s your chance to change that! Take a look at this list of the benefits of zinc for all people, particularly those suffering from or at risk for diabetes, and be inspired to pack a little extra zinc into your diet!
Below, read some of the many reasons why you should be making sure you’re getting enough zinc.
6. The body can’t make zinc, but it needs zinc.
Food or supplements are pretty much the only ways you’re going to get this vital nutrient. Your body doesn’t make it, and you can’t absorb it from the sun or anything like that. You have to get it from what you eat. And you have to get it somewhere, because it gets stored in several locations throughout the body and used for vital purposes. It supports a healthy immune system, speeds the healing of wounds, helps cells grow and divide, acts as an antioxidant, and helps break down carbohydrates for energy.
5. Zinc helps make insulin.
One of zinc’s vital roles is helping the formation of insulin in the pancreas’s beta cells. Zinc has also been used in some forms of human-made insulin.
4. Zinc helps insulin function properly.
Zinc provides natural blood sugar control and promotes insulin function.
3. Zinc could help prevent diabetes.
An Australian study found that adults with pre-diabetes who took 30 mg of zinc sulfate per day had better beta-cell function, better fasting plasma glucose levels, less insulin resistance and greater insulin sensitivity than those who were given a placebo. So while zinc isn’t an automatic cure-all, it could play an important role in improving your pre-diabetes condition and keeping you from developing diabetes.
2. Zinc could prevent heart issues.
People with diabetes are particularly prone to heart disease and heart attacks. A Finnish study followed 1050 adults with type 2 diabetes over 7 years and found that those with lower levels of zinc were more likely to have a heart attack and more likely to die of heart disease than those with higher zinc levels.
1. Zinc could treat other diabetes-related health conditions.
There are several health conditions associated with diabetes, including high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure. Circulation and nerve issues such as retinopathy and neuropathy are also not uncommon. Luckily, zinc will help treat all of these issues and return your body to a healthier state in more ways than one. And not only can zinc treat these health concerns, it can also help prevent them.
Wondering how you’re going to go about getting more zinc in your diet now? Well, there are always supplements, but we also recommend foods like oysters, crab, beef, lamb, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, nuts, cocoa, chicken, legumes, and mushrooms, which all have a high zinc content.
Before making drastic changes to your diet or adding a zinc supplement, check with your doctor. Too much zinc can cause an imbalance with the copper and iron in your body and may affect your immune system and cholesterol levels. It can also lead to nausea and vomiting and may interfere with the absorption of other medications.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?