I’ve been a big proponent for years of supplementing with zinc, especially for hard-training individuals. After all, it’s a critical component in so many body processes, particularly those that regulate growth and immunity. Athletes have higher needs for zinc – they lose more of it, thus they need to take in more.
Numerous studies show that zinc is important for muscle strength, muscle growth, metabolism and immune function, and the research confirms that supplementing with zinc can improve testosterone levels, increase gains in muscle strength and muscle growth, enhance fat loss, and improve immune function. The latest study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that getting even a small amount of extra zinc can have big benefits, particularly to your DNA.
Researchers from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) had subjects consume a diet that provided 6 mg of zinc per day or a diet that provided 10 mg of zinc. They found that when the subjects consumed the extra zinc, despite it being just an extra 4 mg, they had reduced oxidative stress and damage to DNA. In particular, they found less DNA strand breaks in leukocytes, or white blood cells, which are important in mounting an immune response in the body. They also showed that the higher zinc intake helped to bump up the level of proteins involved in DNA repair, antioxidant production and immune function.
Jim’s Take-Home Points
The UCSF study showed that getting just a modest increase in zinc intake, to a level of 10 mg per day, helped prevent DNA damage while simultaneously enhancing DNA repair. Bumping up zinc intake also appeared to enhance the production of antioxidants in the body and immune function. This can potentially help you recover better, get sick less, stay healthier and live longer. While a 10 mg dose may be adequate in normal, sedentary people, hard-training individuals and athletes have a higher requirement of zince because they lose more of it through exercise. That’s why a 30 mg dose works for men who train (and a 20 mg dose for females who train).
The problem with standard zinc supplements, however, is that they’re poorly absorbed by the body. That’s why I offer ZMA JYM (now available at GNC stores nationwide as well as GNC.com), which provides 30 mg of zinc in a chelated form, along with magnesium to enhance zinc’s uptake and utilization by the body. Plus, I advise taking ZMA JYM without calcium, which normally interferes with zinc uptake, and on an empty stomach to further enhance uptake.
Just one dose of ZMA JYM per day (3 capsules for me, 2 capsules for women) is all it takes to hit the ideal doses – 30 mg for men, 20 mg for women – for hard-training individuals. Not only will you be fueling your training and your recovery with these adequate amounts and optimal uptake in ZMA form, but you’ll be fueling your DNA, too!
Syba, S. J., et al. A moderate increase in dietary zinc reduces DNA strand beaks in leukocytes and alters plasma proteins without changing plasma zinc concentrations. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In press, 2017.