Zinc: Role, Benefits, Deficiency, Sources, Daily dose, Supplements

Zinc is an essential mineral for life, and its health benefits are innumerable. From skin, immunity, and countless diseases, zinc can play an important role in almost any problem. Try to eat as many foods that have zinc in their composition.

Today, I will continue the series of articles about minerals, with another important micronutrient for the health of our body, namely Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral for life, and its health benefits are innumerable, although most are not known to the general public. 

From skin, immunity, and countless diseases, zinc can play an important role in almost any problem. Try to eat as many foods that have zinc in their composition.

The role of zinc

Zinc is found in small amounts in all fluids and tissues of the human body. This nutrient contributes to the proper functioning of the thyroid, immune system, reproductive system, and cognitive function.

At the same time, zinc helps in the processes of division and development of cells, accelerates wound healing, and promotes the breakdown of carbohydrates.

The benefits of zinc in the body

Among the beneficial actions of zinc on health are:

• Supporting the immune system – A low level of zinc can increase the susceptibility to infections

• Important role in cellular processes – cells need zinc to function properly. The process of cell division is important for the development and optimal functioning of the body. In the absence of zinc, the process of cell division can be compromised

• Protect cells against oxidative stress – zinc has antioxidant properties and, along with other antioxidants, protects cells against free radicals, compounds that accelerate the aging process and can promote diseases such as cardiovascular disease

• Maintaining fertility – zinc contributes to the ovulation process in women and helps produce semen and testosterone in men

• Normal metabolism of vitamin A – zinc is an essential component that helps transport vitamin A into the blood

• Maintaining healthy hair, nails, and skin

• Maintaining the health of the bone system – the absorption of calcium in the bones depends on an adequate level of zinc. It is essential for maintaining bone health and supporting rapid healing in the event of a fracture

• Normal metabolism of nutrients – zinc is an essential part of the process of synthesis and breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids

• Maintaining cognitive function – zinc has an important role in the way neurons communicate with each other and contribute to the way we learn

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Zinc deficiency

An inadequate and undiversified diet can lead to zinc deficiency, ie the lack of a necessary amount of zinc for the body to function in normal parameters.

About 70% of the zinc obtained from food comes from animal products. Lean meat, liver, eggs, fortified cereals, and seafood (especially oysters) are true zinc resources. Because many vegetarian diets lack these foods, in vegetarians, zinc absorption is generally slow.

A low level of zinc is also observed in people who constantly consume alcohol or in the elderly.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency

Zinc deficiency has the following symptoms:

• Immune imbalance

• Hair loss

• Changing the sense of taste and smell

Insomnia

• Hearing problems

• Change in growth rate

• Skin manifestations

• Occurrence of acute diarrhea

• Late wound healing

• Decreased appetite

Natural sources of zinc

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Zinc can be found in the form of food supplements, but some foods contain this essential mineral in abundance. Zinc-containing foods are as follows:

• Foods rich in animal protein, such as red meat (beef, pork, sheep, lamb) or chicken

• Dairy products and eggs

• Vegetables – broccoli, beets, mushrooms, potatoes, asparagus, cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, pumpkin, spinach, tomatoes

• Fresh fruits – pineapple, mango, strawberries, oranges, bananas, apricots

• Oilseedscashews, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts

Fish and seafood – salmon, sardines, tuna, lobster, shellfish, crab or mussels

Recommended daily amount of zinc

Providing the required daily amount of zinc helps prevent many complications. An adult needs about 0.2 mg/kg of zinc per day; it is not allowed to exceed this amount

The required daily dose of zinc varies depending on each organism, age, or sex, according to the table below:

STAGEAGEMEN (Mg/ Day)WOMEN (Mg/ Day)
Infants0 – 6 months22
Babies7 – 12 months33
Children1 – 3 years33
Children4- – 8 years55
Children9 – 13 years88
Teenagers14 – 18 years119
AdultsAbove 19 years118
Pregnancy11
Breastfeeding12

Adverse effects of zinc

Like any other substance used in excess, zinc can also cause certain side effects, which you should avoid. People with low zinc levels should take zinc supplements.

Side effects that may occur, as a result of excess zinc include:

• Indigestion

• Diarrhea

• Headache

• Nausea

• Vomiting

Zinc supplements

Zinc is found in nutritional supplements in the form of tablets or capsules. They contain different types of zinc. Because this mineral is not easily absorbed by the body, zinc is sometimes attached to another substance such as amino acids.

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