Multivitamins frequently include zinc for its wide range of life-essential functions.
Zinc is an essential mineral with many roles in the body, but is particularly important for:
- Aiding enzymes. Zinc-dependent enzymes facilitate numerous processes in the body, including protein and DNA synthesis, immunity, and wound healing.
- Regulating gene expression. Zinc influences the transcription of genes, which affects growth and cell signaling.
Zinc is an element and essential trace mineral involved in many biological processes, including immunity, brain function, protein and DNA synthesis, and reproduction. Similar to magnesium, most of these functions are mediated by zinc’s role in the proper functioning of over 300 different enzymes.
Zinc deficiency is rare in the developed world, but is estimated to affect as many as 2 billion people worldwide.1 Abundant quantities of zinc are available in everyday foods, with especially high amounts in shellfish, eggs, and red meat.
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Zinc
|0 – 12 months||2 – 3 mg||2 – 3 mg|
|1 – 8 years||3 – 5 mg||3 – 5 mg|
|9 – 13 years||8 mg||8 mg|
|14 – 18 years||11 mg||9 mg (12 mg for pregnancy, 13 mg for breast-feeding)|
|19+||11 mg||8 mg (11 mg for pregnancy, 12 mg for breast-feeding)|
Foods High in Zinc
|Food||Serving Size||Amount per serving (mg)|
|Oysters (cooked)||6 oysters||27 – 50|
|Beef||3 ounces||3.7 – 5.8|
|Beans (baked)||½ cup||0.9 – 2.9|
How Zinc Might Help with General Health
The capacity of zinc to impact numerous bodily processes stems from its vital role in:
Facilitating enzyme function
Zinc is required for the proper function of enzymes involved in a wide range of processes, including:3
- Immune function, especially leukocytes and T-helper cells that protect the body4 5
- DNA and protein synthesis
- Wound healing
- Cell division
Regulating gene expression
By managing the first step of gene expression (transcription), zinc has a major impact on:
- Pre and postnatal growth and development6 7
- Cellular signaling8
- Hormone release, including testosterone synthesis
- Nerve transmission
Zinc’s Benefits as a Multivitamin
As the case with other essential nutrients, zinc is commonly added to multivitamins to be sure that you’re getting enough to support its basic biological functions such as optimal immune function.
- Multivitamins typically include 10 – 15 mg of zinc as zinc oxide or zinc citrate
- Health professionals recommend taking no more than 40 mg of zinc per day
Supplements in Review Says
- Zinc 8-11 mg as part of a multivitamin.
Zinc is essential to the proper functioning of the body. Zinc is necessary for a wide range of vital processes such as protein and DNA synthesis, immune function, wound healing, growth, cellular signaling, and hormone release.
Look for a multivitamin with at least the RDA dose. Multivitamins containing RDA doses (8 mg for women and 11 mg for men) are sufficient to be sure you’re getting plenty of zinc.
- Prasad AS. Zinc deficiency. BMJ. 2003 Feb 22;326(7386):409-10. ↩
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Zinc. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 2001:442-501. ↩
- McCall KA, et al. Function and mechanism of zinc metalloenzymes. J Nutr. 2000;130(5S Suppl):1437S-46S. ↩
- Solomons NW. Mild human zinc deficiency produces an imbalance between cell-mediated and humoral immunity. Nutr Rev 1998;56:27-8. ↩
- Prasad AS, et al. Zinc deficiency: changes in cytokine production and T-cell subpopulations in patients with head and neck cancer and in noncancer subjects. Proc Assoc Am Physicians 1997;109:68-77. ↩
- Simmer K, et al. Zinc in the fetus and newborn. Acta Paediatr Scand Suppl 1985;319:158-63. ↩
- Truong-Tran AQ, et al. Cellular zinc fluxes and the regulation of apoptosis/gene-directed cell death. J Nutr. 2000;130(5S Suppl):1459S-66S. ↩
- MacDonald RS. The role of zinc in growth and cell proliferation. J Nutr. 2000;130(5S Suppl):1500S-8S. ↩
- Cho E, et al. Prospective study of zinc intake and the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Ann Epidemiol. 2001;11(5):328-36. ↩