Zinc is a trace mineral, so we need only small amounts—but it plays a big role in our health. It’s estimated that zinc binds with more than 3,000 different proteins in the human body, and influences many of our internal processes.

1. A Healthy Immune System

“Zinc is a critical factor for the functioning of many cellular processes, and loss of zinc in the cell leads to various problems, especially in your immune cells,” says Emily Ho, PhD, a leading zinc researcher at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

In early attempts to find a treatment for COVID-19, the addition of high-dose zinc supplements to a drug cocktail has shown some success. But this doesn’t mean that zinc alone is a treatment for the virus. Rather, adequate zinc helps your immune system ward off or fight all types of infections. “It’s important to make sure you get enough zinc,” says Ho.