What is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential trace element, necessary for sustaining all forms of life.
Function of Zinc:
Zinc must be obtained from the diet, because the body cannot make enough. Zinc is
primarily stored in the muscles. High concentrations of the trace mineral are also
found in red and white blood cells, bones, liver, kidneys, the retina of the eye, skin,
and pancreas. In males, high amounts of zinc are also stored in the prostate gland.
Zinc is essential to the immune system. It helps to protect against infections such as
colds. It also plays an important role in the regulation of appetite, stress level, taste,
and smell. Zinc is needed for normal growth and development, and for reproduction
in both males and females.
Zinc also has some antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are nutrients that provide
some protection against various health conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, and
cancer. Like other antioxidants, zinc blocks some of the damage that is caused by
free radicals. Free radicals are by-products that occur when our bodies transform
food into energy. Antioxidants also help to reduce damage to the body that is
caused by toxic chemicals and pollutants such as cigarette smoke.
Deficiency of Zinc:
Individuals who are prone to having zinc deficiency include the elderly, people with
anorexia, and individuals on restrictive weight loss diets. Zinc deficiency can also be
caused by alcoholism. Irritable bowel disease, Celiac disease, and chronic diarrhea
can also cause zinc deficiency because they interfere with the absorption of nutrients
Symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of appetite, weight loss, poor growth,
impaired taste or smell, skin abnormalities (such as acne, atopic dermatitis and
psoriasis), poor wound healing, hair loss, night blindness, lack of menstrual period,
hypogonadism and delayed sexual maturation, white spots on the fingernails, and
feelings of depression.
Note: A variety of medical conditions can lead to the symptoms mentioned above. Therefore, it is
important to have a physician evaluate them so that appropriate medical care can be given.
Toxicity (Zinc Overdose):
Taking high doses of zinc may weaken immune function. It may also lower HDL
("good") cholesterol and raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Side effects associated with
taking zinc supplements include: upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, a metallic taste in
the mouth, dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, increased sweating, loss of muscle
coordination, alcohol intolerance, hallucinations, and anemia.
Caution: Eating natural foods that are high in zinc is the safest and healthiest way to
get an adequate supply of the nutrient. Due to risk of toxicity, individuals should
always consult with a knowledgeable health care provider before starting doses of
supplements. Before giving supplements to children, it is recommended that you first
consult with their pediatrician. Also, some supplements may interfere with
medications. If you are taking medication, it is recommended that you consult with
your physician before taking any supplements. All supplements should be kept in
childproof bottles and out of children's reach.
Zinc Food Chart (List of Foods High in Zinc):
Oysters, cooked, 6 medium (76.3 mg)
Beef, cooked, 3 ounces - (6.0 mg)
Crab, Dungeness, cooked, 3 ounces - (4.7 mg)
Turkey, dark meat, cooked, 3 ounces - (3.8 mg)
Chicken, dark meat, cooked, 3 ounces - (1.8 mg)
Yogurt, fruit 1 cup - (1.8 mg)
Milk 1 cup - (1.8 mg)
Beans, baked, 1/2 cup - (1.8 mg)
Cashews 1 ounce - (1.6 mg)
Chickpeas 1/2 cup - (1.3 mg)
Almonds 1 ounce - (1.0 mg)
Peanuts 1 ounce - (0.9 mg)
Cheese, cheddar, 1 ounce - (0.9 mg)
American Dietetic Association: Complete Food And Nutrition Guide (2nd Edition)
Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS
Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and More
Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH
University of Maryland Medical Center - umm.edu
Linus Pauling Institute - oregonstate.edu
Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia
Eating foods that are high in zinc
can help prevent conditions such
as impaired growth and
neurological and behavioral
development in young children,
increased susceptibility to
infectious diseases, and
pregnancy complications. Eating
foods high in zinc may also help
to slow age-related decline in
immune function for the elderly.
More studies are being
conducted. Foods high in zinc
include: beef, turkey, beans,
lentils, and nuts.
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|These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The content on
this website is for educational purposes only. Please consult with your physician before using natural
remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise program.
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