Zinc: The Benefits for Liver and Overall Health

Your liver is responsible for detoxifying your body, but this process is altered when damage occurs. Here’s why zinc is an integral part of your overall health.

6 minute read

Last Updated September 20, 2021

Zinc: The Benefits for Liver and Overall Health

Zinc is a nutrient that plays several important roles within the body. It is an essential element because your body is unable to produce it naturally. Zinc can be obtained from several food sources such as whole grains, meat, beans, nuts, and dairy. You can also take zinc supplements to help maintain healthy levels. 

Zinc is required by the body for several processes, including:

♦ Gene expression
♦ Immune function
♦ Wound healing
♦ DNA synthesis
♦ Protein synthesis
♦ Enzymatic reactions

Zinc is a vital mineral that your body uses in countless ways. After iron, zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in the body, and it can be found in every cell. Maintaining zinc levels is essential to liver function and your overall health.

Boost Liver Health With Zinc

Over 4 million people are currently diagnosed with liver diseases in America, indicating the need to protect and support liver health. Studies have shown a link between long-term zinc supplementation and better liver health, which is a much-needed step in the fight against liver disease.

Zinc supports liver health in several ways. As a fundamental element in cellular metabolism, zinc deficiency can cause symptoms from hair loss, loss of smell, immune dysfunction, poor appetite, and cerebral dysfunction. These are common symptoms in patients with liver disease, indicating that zinc is a major player. 

Zinc deficiency can cause liver cell dysfunction and immune responses in inflammatory liver diseases. The liver is also the main organ for zinc metabolism, so damage or disease interferes with zinc levels in the body, creating a negative cycle for liver health. Zinc deficiency specifically impacts the liver’s ability to regenerate.

Without zinc to neutralize free radicals, oxidative stress increases in the liver. This results in the cell and tissue damage that is commonly seen in individuals with cirrhosis. The oxidative damage contributes to inflammation, which impairs the liver’s ability to protect your body from viruses and toxins. Essentially, the liver cannot do its job.

Studies show that zinc inhibits the activity of inflammatory proteins that are associated with liver disease. In doing so, the progression of liver diseases like cirrhosis can be slowed. Long-term supplementation has been linked to a reduced risk for liver cancer and improves overall liver function. Zinc helps to slow liver damage in both viral and non-viral liver diseases. 

Additional Health Benefits of Zinc

Not many people realize how important zinc is for the liver. It is the other benefits of zinc that are more widely known, such as its support of the immune system. It also plays a role in other important processes in the body to support and enhance overall health. 

Stronger Immunity

Zinc is essential for immune cell function and cell signaling. Without it, your immune system can be weakened. For this reason, many cold medications and therapies include zinc. Studies show that zinc supplements can reduce the length of the common cold as well as reduce the risk of infections. Zinc is able to boost immunity in this way by stimulating immune cells into action against infections and by reducing oxidative stress. 

Less Risk of Age-Related Diseases

The ability to reduce oxidative damage allows zinc to reduce the risk of age-related diseases such as pneumonia and macular degeneration. By relieving oxidative stress and boosting the immune response, zinc helps protect your body from infection and reduce the risk of pneumonia. Additionally, when combined with antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, zinc can decrease vision loss in those with macular degeneration.

Reduced Inflammation

Zinc reduces levels of certain inflammatory proteins in the body. Since oxidative stress leads to inflammation, zinc’s ability to combat free radicals allows it to fight inflammation on two fronts. Chronic inflammation is a contributing factor to several serious illnesses, including cancer, cognitive decline, and heart disease. 

Healthier Skin

Zinc can be used topically or taken orally to promote healthier skin. Acne affects almost 10% of the world’s population and is caused by the obstruction of oil-producing glands, bacteria, and inflammation. Zinc has the ability to reduce inflammation, inhibit the growth of bacteria such as P. acnes, and suppress oily gland activity. 

Taking Zinc

Zinc is considered safe for supplements when taken in recommended doses. These doses are 8mg per day for adult women and 11mg per day for adult men. The tolerable upper level dosage for zinc is 40mg per day. It is important to avoid high-dose zinc supplements to avoid overconsumption. Higher doses should only be taken if recommended by your doctor. 

When taking zinc supplements, choose one that uses zinc in absorbable forms such as zinc citrate to get the maximum benefits. 

Side Effects and Warnings

Just as a deficiency in zinc can cause problems, so can excessive intake. High-dosage zinc supplements are the most common cause of zinc toxicity, which can lead to adverse side effects. Symptoms can be both acute and chronic and may include:

♦ Loss of appetite
♦ Headaches
♦ Abdominal cramping
♦ Nausea
♦ Vomiting

While zinc is an important nutrient for immune system support, too much can cause reduced immune function. Excessive zinc levels can also impair your digestive system, causing deficiencies in other nutrients and reducing HDL (good) levels of cholesterol. 

The Bottom Line

Your liver is responsible for detoxifying your body and protecting you. It cannot do this job if it becomes damaged or diseased. The risks for this are high when your liver is exposed to high levels of oxidative stress.

Zinc can support liver function and health as well as reduce the risks of serious liver diseases. Zinc will also support overall health as an essential element in cellular processes throughout the body. Get zinc, and stay healthy!