Zinc is an important mineral, which takes part in many processes in the body. As other minerals, zinc should also be consumed regularly or as a dietary supplement. It helps the body to function properly and fight diseases successfully.
WHY IS ZINC IMPORTANT?
More than 200 enzymes in the body need zinc to function properly. Zinc is required for the creation of many hormones, including hormones that tell the immune system how to fight against bacteria.
Zinc is especially important for those hormones that regulate the growth of the body and the male hormone testosterone. Lack of zinc in men reduces testosterone levels and sperm count.
Testosterone levels affect the sexual activity, the amount of muscle mass, bone growth, etc. So men need to pay more attention to zinc.
The body copes easily with colds and flu when there is enough zinc in it as zinc helps to boost the immune system. Besides, zinc helps to maintain good looking skin. It controls the secretion of the sebaceous glands and helps to fight acne. And good vision largely depends on zinc.
Most of the zinc in the body is concentrated in the skin, hair, nails and eyes (in men in prostate as well).
SYMPTOMS OF ZINC DEFICIENCY
Some of the symptoms that can occur when you have low zinc levels in the body are:
- Slower growth in children;
- Frequent infections;
- Slow wound healing;
- Hair loss;
- Loss of sense of taste;
- Irritation of the skin.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE AT RISK OF ZINC DEFICIENCY?
Strict vegetarians. Food of animal origin is the best source of zinc. Fruits almost do not contain this mineral. Therefore, this group is especially at risk of zinc deficiency.
People who eat foods that contain plenty of fiber. Grains bind with zinc and thereby prevent its absorption by the body.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers. This group needs extra amounts of zinc, because part of it is passed on to the baby.
People over 50 years of age. The body’s ability to absorb zinc decreases with age.
Alcoholics. Regular consumption of alcohol, even of small amounts, leads to a reduction in zinc level in the body.
RECOMMENDED DAILY NEEDS
Baby (0-6 months) – 2mg
Babies (7-12 months) – 3mg
Children (1-3 years) – 3mg
Children (4-8 years) – 5mg
Children (9-13 years) – 8mg
Men (14-18 years) – 11mg
Women (14-18 years) – 9mg
Men (19 years and up) – 11mg
Women (19 years and up) – 8mg
Pregnant women (19 years and up) – 11mg
Lactating women (19 years and up) – 12mg
Men need to consume larger quantities of zinc than women. Pregnant women and nursing mothers also have higher daily needs of this mineral.
FOODS RICH IN ZINC
Daily needs of zinc are best satisfied with diet. Zinc is most abundant in red meat, fish and seafood, nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and eggs.
Fruits and vegetables contain only minimal amounts of zinc. Most zinc is found in pears, walnuts, cherries, beans, peas and lentils.