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What is zinc good for?

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Quick Answer

According to the National Institutes of Health, zinc is good for immune system support, wound healing, protein and DNA synthesis, and cell division. This essential mineral is required for a proper sense of taste and smell, and it supports normal growth and development during childhood, adolescence and pregnancy.

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Zinc can reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms, so it is often added to cold lozenges and nasal sprays, notes the National Institutes of Health. Zinc supplements have also been found to shorten the course of diarrhea, especially in malnourished children. Research studies have shown that zinc can help reduce age-related vision loss by preventing cellular damage in the retina.

The International Zinc Association notes that zinc is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails. Zinc creams can treat diaper rash in babies and psoriasis and neurodermitis in adults. The mineral's anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective treatment for poison ivy and sunburn.

According to Mayo Clinic, early but significant research has shown that zinc taken orally and applied to the skin can be an effective treatment for acne. Research evidence also exists to support the benefit of zinc in the treatment of stomach ulcers, ADHD, herpes simplex virus, sickle cell anemia and bad breath.

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