You may not be aware of this, but zinc is one of the most important minerals in our bodies. It’s found in our cells, organs, muscles and bones and is a major contributor to our general wellbeing and the health of your skin.

Zinc is probably best known for its immune-boosting properties as it works to inhibit bacteria and viruses. The World Health Organization has endorsed the benefits of zinc, with the global watchdog suggesting zinc supplements can help boost respiratory health in children.

If you want to keep your immune system strong and in optimal health, it’s suggested that you take between 15-30mg of zinc per day.

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If you don’t want to take a supplement, foods that contain high doses of zinc include: seafood (particularly shellfish), yoghurt, pumpkin, sesame seeds, beans, lean meat, beef, dark chocolate, milk, oatmeal, chicken, chickpeas, mushrooms, cheese and cooked spinach.

Here are five benefits of zinc that might surprise you:

Sex drive

Zinc is particularly great for men as it can help increase testosterone levels in men and help combat sexual problems, like erectile dysfunction.

A number of studies have also linked zinc deficiency to vaginal dryness and low testosterone levels.

Heals wounds

Researchers have found that zinc is good at healing wounds and cuts on your body.

According to a study published in the journal, Wound Repair and Regeneration, a topical zinc solution works best. “Topical zinc therapy is underappreciated even though clinical evidence emphasises its importance in autodebridement, anti-infective action and promotion of epithelialisation,” the researchers noted.

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Helps fight off depression

Taken in conjunction with magnesium, zinc-containing neurons help to regulate the brain and, by extension, your body’s reaction to stress, several studies have shown.

Lower levels of zinc in your body have been linked to depression.

Acne

Zinc is an antioxidant that helps fight and prevent the formation of free radicals in the skin and it helps to regulate oil gland activity which works to curtail acne.

Zinc also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate irritation associated with moderate to severe acne and, in some cases, has been known to help reduce the appearance of acne scars.

Zinc is also used to treat other skin conditions like eczema, melanoma, seborrheic dermatitis and rosacea.

On a side note: acne can be an indicator of zinc deficiency.

Sources: Healthline, Honey Colony