Zinc is an essential mineral and has a number of health benefits. It plays a key role in the immune system, wound healing, and the production of insulin. It is also essential for the functioning of more than 100 enzymes.
Many people aren’t aware that they have a zinc deficiency. How many is “many,” you ask? Well, studies estimate that over 1 billion people worldwide (yes, that’s a B) have either zinc deficiency or sub-optimal zinc levels.
The lack of this vital mineral can substantially impair how your body functions on a day-to-day basis, including your inflammation levels, which could indirectly affect tendonitis.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of zinc for your health, how to get enough zinc from your diet and supplements, and how it might help with tendonitis.
Tendonitis and Injuries
The most common cause of tendonitis if frequent wear and tear of tendons and other connective tissues over a prolonged period of time. This could be from exercise, strenuous work, or general daily activities that lead to the breakdown of your tendons. Some people have naturally weaker tendons which leads to faster breakdown of the tissue and consequently, quicker onset of symptoms. This is why you’ll see some older folks who have no apparent symptoms, while there are many individuals who start suffering from tendonitis as early as their 20s.
That said, there are other causes and contributors to tendonitis beyond just physical wear and tear. The biggest culprit behind many of today’s modern health conditions is without a doubt – inflammation.
Tendonitis and Inflammation
Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon. It can happen in any tendon in any part of the body.
Inflammation is a protective response to injury or infection. It is characterized by redness, swelling, heat, and pain.
Tendonitis is caused by overuse and repetitive motion of the affected area. This can lead to inflammation which can cause pain and stiffness in the area where it is located.
The two conditions are related because inflammation can be a result of these two disorders and vice versa – inflammation can cause tendonitis, as well as tendonitis, which can lead to inflammation in some cases. It is a dark spiral! The good news, however, is that it can be managed and completely reversed in some cases. In order to understand how, we should first look at how inflammation works in the body.
The immune system is a complex system of cells and organs that works by recognizing what is “self” (the host) and what is “non-self” (foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses or parasites). The self-recognition starts with molecules called pattern-recognition molecules, which are present in the body and on the surface of cells. These molecules allow an immune response to be triggered when specific chemical or biological markers (like those seen on bacteria) are detected.
This immune response eventually leads to inflammation, which is a result of the chemical reactions that occur within cells. Inflammation in the body is typically needed for healthy function, but when it becomes chronic, it leads to a number of problems – tendonitis being one of them.
How Zinc Fights Inflammation
Zinc is a mineral that is necessary for the body to function properly. It helps immune cells work properly, supports wound healing and helps maintain blood sugar levels.
Zinc also has anti-inflammatory properties. When it acts on the immune cells, it prevents them from releasing too many pro-inflammatory chemicals, which can cause inflammation. Some of the pro-inflammatory proteins that zinc inhibits include Interleukin 6, Interleukin 10 and G-CSF.
Zinc deficiency has been linked to chronic inflammation and may be a factor in conditions like atherosclerosis, asthma and arthritis. The anti-inflammatory effects of zinc can help with not just joint pain but also things like testosterone deficiency, weight gain, and insulin resistance, as stated by Newell. This mineral can be found in foods rich in protein such as oysters, beef liver and dairy products as well as in vegetarian sources like legumes, whole grains and seeds. You can also consume it through supplements – however, it’s important that the source of the zinc is listed on the label.
Why Zinc Could Be Helpful for People with Tendonitis
Zinc is often used to treat tendonitis. Tendonitis is a condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the tendons. Zinc has been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of this condition by reducing inflammation, increasing collagen production, and improving healing rates.
Zinc may also reduce pain by blocking the transmission of nerve impulses that cause pain signals to be sent from the site of injury. As zinc affects numerous hormones in our body, including those that are closely linked to aggravating tendonitis, like testosterone, it is a useful supplement to take if you are experiencing tendonitis.
Beyond that, zinc helps to improve joint and bone health. It may improve the strength of the connective tissue, which might reduce the risk of arthritis and other joint disorders. In addition, by reducing inflammation, it might help to prevent the long-term degeneration of the joint.
Zinc Dosage for Tendonitis
Zinc is an essential mineral that is needed for many bodily functions, including the healing of wounds. Zinc also helps maintain a healthy immune system and as such, it can be beneficial in the treatment of tendonitis. The recommended dosage for zinc is 12 mg per day. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your doctor may recommend a lower dose.
The safe upper limit for zinc is 40 mg per day. There are no major side effects of zinc if you take it in doses lower than 15mg and with food. However, taken in higher dosages on an empty stomach, there is a risk of side effects including nausea and vomiting. With that said, if you’re sensitive, there is a risk of getting these side effects from zinc even from lighter dosages. If that’s you, consider talking to your doctor before taking zinc supplements.
Zinc may interact with certain medications, such as penicillin and drugs that are used to treat osteoporosis. Though interactions aren’t typically dangerous at natural dosages, it is important to speak to your doctor about possible interactions. Do not start taking zinc if you are currently taking these medicines without consulting your physician first.
Nutrients to Combine With Zinc for a Stronger Effect
Taking zinc is a good start if you want to manage your tendonitis symptoms. But there are many other nutrients and natural compounds that can help speed up the healing process of your joints as well as reduce inflammation that aggravates your tendon pain.
The following nutrients can be taken with zinc to improve its effectiveness for relieving tendonitis and joint inflammation:
- Vitamin C – this vitamin has antioxidant properties that help reduce the oxidative stress on muscles caused by exercise.
- Vitamin D – this vitamin helps regulate calcium absorption which is needed for proper bone health.
- B Vitamins – these are needed to help convert food into fuel which can be used by muscles. B vitamins also assist in repairing damage to your tendons, ligaments, and joints, among many other bodily tissues.
Other Things to Consider
Zinc and other supplements are a great way to give your body the extra help it needs to relieve inflammation, improve joint health, and manage tendonitis. However, it’s important to not forget about the basics – a regular sleep schedule, an anti-inflammatory diet, and daily exercise if possible.
Consider taking a massage. Massage is a great way to stimulate circulation and reduce tightness in your muscles as well as relieve tension and pain in your tendons and joints. Find an experienced massage therapist near you – they might suggest some strengthening exercises to complement the work that they’re doing on your body.
References & Scientific Literature
- Almekinders LC, Temple JD. Etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of tendonitis: an analysis of the literature. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Aug;30(8):1183-90. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199808000-00001. PMID: 9710855.
- Gammoh NZ, Rink L. Zinc in Infection and Inflammation. Nutrients. 2017 Jun 17;9(6):624. doi: 10.3390/nu9060624. PMID: 28629136; PMCID: PMC5490603.