Why Your Body Needs It:
Zinc is a co-factor for almost 200 enzymes and is involved in processing alcohol and carbon dioxide, digestion, protein synthesis, the production of red blood cells, antioxidant activity, tissue and cell growth, cell replication, bone formation, skin integrity, energy metabolism, taste, and cell-mediated immunity.
What Deficiency Looks Like:
In children, signs of deficiency include growth retardation, skeletal abnormalities, and delayed sexual maturation. In adults, signs of deficiency include fatigue, poor wound healing, dermatitis, loss of taste, loss of smell, hair loss, white spots on finger nails, diarrhea, behavioral disturbances, infertility, night blindness, impaired immune function, and impaired protein production.
Sources & Absorption:
Zinc is a trace mineral, meaning that it is a mineral that the body needs in very small amounts. Excellent sources include red meats and seafood. Good sources include poultry, pork, dairy products, whole grains, peas, beans, lentils, carob, peanuts, nuts, seeds, leafy vegetables, and root vegetables. Zinc is better absorbed from meat than from vegetables sources.
What Toxicity Looks Like:
In general, self-supplementing of minerals is not recommended, because minerals are stored in the body and it is possible to over supplement. Acute toxicity leads to metallic taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, epigastric pain, abdominal cramps, fever, and muscle pain. Chronic over supplementation of Zinc leads to Copper deficiency.
* This information is not intended to encourage self-supplementation. As you will read in individual nutrient content, self-supplementation can be unnecessary or even dangerous. I highly recommend micro-nutrient blood testing before choosing to take any supplements that are not whole-foods based.
Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. Advanced nutrition and human metabolism. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth; 2009.
Mahan L, Escott-Stump S, Raymond J. Krauses's food and the nutrition care process. 13th ed. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
Linda Beeker, RDN
I love sharing the power of nutrition - a gift of God's design.