ZINC FOR ATHLETES
WHAT IS ZINC
Zinc is an essential mineral that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Zinc is also found in many cold lozenges and some over-the-counter drugs sold as cold remedies.
Zinc is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes [1,2] and it plays a role in immune function [3,4], protein synthesis , wound healing , DNA synthesis [2,4], and cell division . Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence [6-8] and is required for proper sense of taste and smell . A daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system .
HOW CAN AN ATHLETE BENEFIT FROM TAKING A ZINC SUPPLEMENT?
IMPROVE STRENGTH AND INCREASE LEAN MUSCLE MASS
Studies have shown that zinc can increase testosterone, insulin growth like factor one (IGF-1) and growth hormone following exercise. The increase levels of these hormones after strenuous exercise, can lead to improved recovery time and increase muscle building effect.
BOOST IMMUNE FUNCTION
Athletes with strong immune systems can fight both bacterial and viral infections with their improved T-helper cells. Strenuous exercise causes a short term lowered immune function (OPEN WINDOW EFFECT), this is where we are more susceptible to an infection, usually 24 hours after a hard training session or competition. Athletes can decrease the risk of infection if we optimize our zinc levels daily.
POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
Zinc aids in the neutralization / removal of free radicals, therefore optimal zinc levels can help athletes recover more effectively after strenuous exercise, specifically zinc protects the energy producing cells of the body called the mitochondria.
Optimal zinc levels should not be overlooked, as it could maximize performance.