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If it feels like zinc has been talked about more often in recent years than it used to be, that probably shouldn’t be a big surprise. After all, a lot of people have been asking what they can do to better support their immune system, and this trace mineral and essential micronutrient is regarded as crucial for healthy immune function.
More specifically, a healthy zinc intake is critical to the development and function of immune cells – and it’s really important that you do have an intake of it, given that it isn’t stored or produced by the body. So, you need to make sure it features in your diet.
The National Health Service (NHS) recommends that men aged from 19 to 64 years consume about 9.5mg of zinc a day, while women are advised to aim for around 7mg daily.
With zinc being present in a variety of foods, including meat, shellfish, bread, cereal products, and dairy foods such as cheese, you might be able to get enough of it from your daily diet. But as the above list indicates, vegans and vegetarians can be particularly prone to not getting sufficient zinc.
But if you’re considering taking zinc supplements to top up your own intake of this critically important nutrient, does it matter exactly when during the day you take it?
As a general rule, there isn’t really a ‘wrong’ time to take any given vitamin or mineral, at least in terms of the health impact. However, there are still a few things worth considering on the subject of the best time to take zinc.
The good news is that regardless of when you take zinc during the day, the body will metabolise it in exactly the same way. Some people do, though, feel queasy if they take zinc on an empty stomach – so if this has happened to you before, you might choose to take yours with a meal and to avoid taking zinc on mornings in general.
But it’s also interesting to note the evidence that taking zinc late at night might help people achieve better-quality sleep. A double-blind randomised controlled trial concentrating on ICU nurses, for instance, found that the nurses reported improved sleep quality after taking 220-milligram zinc sulphate capsules – about 50mg of zinc – every 72 hours for a month.
Then, there was the randomised controlled trial involving older Italian adults who struggled to sleep; it was discovered that over an eight-week period, those who took a combination of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc one hour before bed reported “considerably better” sleep scores than those who took a placebo.
It has also previously been found – by a clinical trial in young women at around the time of their menstrual cycle – that 30 milligrams a day of zinc supplementation could significantly improve quality of life, with sleep quality one of the areas seeing some improvement.
So, there you have it! While there’s little to say you necessarily have to take zinc at a certain time, for some people, the best time to take zinc might turn out to be late at night. So, this could be a consideration if achieving a restful slumber is a challenge for you.
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If it feels like zinc has been talked about more often in recent years than it used to be, that probably shouldn’t be a big surprise. Find out the best time to take zinc.