While there are many ways that zinc helps your body, it plays a particularly important role in the formation and maintenance of strong bones.
Perhaps you might be asking, what does this have to do with oral health? A very good question. While the enamel of your teeth does not regrow, bone itself is living tissue and is constantly breaking down and rebuilding, perhaps slowly, but it is a dynamic, growing tissue that needs support. Your teeth attach to your jaw bones and to your facial bone structure. And, certainly, having a strong foundation will make for a stronger mouth overall.
Calcium is the main component in your bone structure. We are all likely familiar with the fact that calcium makes up the lion’s share of our mineral bone structure.
Your teeth and the enamel are no different, this hard surface is largely composed of hydroxyapatite which is a form of calcium. But calcium does not just wondrously form into bone structure nor does it magically attach itself in the ongoing process of bone formation.
Bone formation is a complex process which we won't cover here. But we will touch on two important players here: osteoblasts and osteoclasts. These two types of cells, in the bone structure, break down and build up bone tissue. Like most medical terms, if you break down the words into their Greek origins they become super easy to understand, such as here:
So, an osteoblast is a group of cells that build up bone by bringing in new minerals and forming them into bones. Osteoclasts are groups of cells that get rid of old, unhealthy bone tissue and so they break down bone. These two types of cells function together to keep your bones renewed, strong and healthy.
Moving along, we all know that our calcium and vitamin D intake is super important when building strong bones. Doing so provides the raw material needed to maintain healthy and dense bones, but without the supporting minerals to process the raw materials then the ongoing cycle of bone reformation literally breaks down.
Zinc, along with other minerals (listed at the end of the blog), is extremely important in the bone formation process. Studies have shown that it not only stimulates the osteoblasts to form bone structure but also that zinc will also inhibit the breaking down of bone as well. Bottom line, without getting technical, zinc helps to stimulate the entire process of bone formation.
For this, and other reasons, studies have found that those individuals (women in particular) with lower zinc levels were also more likely to suffer from osteoporosis (weak or porous bones from the Greek for “bone” and “porous”).
As an added benefit, adequate zinc intake and levels support your immune system as well as aiding in the reduction of chronic inflammation.
And while zinc can be obtained from foods such as meats, nuts, eggs and beans it is a wise idea to supplement daily with 25mg to 50mg of zinc.
For stronger and healthier bones, here is the deal. Make sure that you get plenty of calcium in your diet, but this needs to be supported by adequate intake of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K. Along with these vitamins ensure that you are getting adequate zinc as well as magnesium, boron and manganese.
Along with a healthy diet, simple exercise and movement, these vitamins and minerals will help keep your bones strong, healthy and safe.