Jenny, I doubt you'll be surprised when I tell you that zinc is a complicated little dude!
Zinc helps more than 300 different enzymes in our body function, helps metabolize protein and carbs, helps with cell growth and with our immune systems. It's been long believed that it also helps with healing wounds, though the medical community has only partially confirmed it.
We need a certain amount of zinc, but too much is dangerous. The Mayo Clinic notes these recommended daily allowances:
Normal daily recommended intakes in milligrams (mg) for zinc are generally defined as follows:
Infants and children birth to 3 years of age 5–10 mg
Children 4 to 6 years of age 10 mg
Children 7 to 10 years of age 10 mg
Adolescent and adult males 15 mg
Adolescent and adult females 12 mg
Pregnant females 15 mg
Breast-feeding females 16–19 mg
If you were in the aisle looking for zinc supplements, chances are you've got a cold, because zinc is one of the most popular ingredients today in medicines that help fight the common cold. That same Mayo Clinic page addresses different uses for and sources of zinc:
Chelated minerals or vitamins mean that the mineral is attached to something else -- an amino acid or another organic ingredient -- because it's believed that the mineral will be better absorbed by the digestive system. There's quite a bit of disagreement in the industry about whether this is actually so.
Dr. Gabe Mirkin graduated from Harvard and from the Baylor University School of Medicine, has practiced for more than 40 years, has been a radio talk show host for 25 and has authored several books. Here's what he has to say about chelated minerals:
Sounds like we're better off with just plain old zinc, made by a quality manufacturer that we have trusted in the past. Hope this helps, and hope you feel better!