Zinc is a micro-mineral that is important to the body. It is considered a trace mineral because only a very little amount of it is needed by the body everyday. The amount of zinc needed by men is different from the amount of zinc needed by women. For men 19-years old and above, only 11 mg of zinc is needed everyday. For women 19-years old and above, only 8 mg of zinc is needed everyday.
Functions of Zinc in the Body
Zinc helps in the activities of a number of enzymes. It is important to the function of the immune system and helps in the proper healing of wounds. Zinc helps in the synthesis of DNA. It also helps in the healthy development of the reproductive system. It helps in maintaining a healthy sense of smell and taste.
Zinc also helps regulate the production of insulin in the body by regulating insulin release and storage. It helps in the production of vitamin A (active form). Lastly, zinc helps in the proper function of the thyroid glands.
Food Sources of Zinc
Common food sources of zinc include meat, seafood, dairy products, fortified cereals, poultry, eggs, whole grains and legumes. Mushroom, spinach and calf liver are also good sources of this mineral.
Although zinc is present in a number of foods, this can be removed because of different factors. For instance, cooking navy beans makes them lose about half of their original zinc content. When wheat is processed, a significant amount of zinc is also lost. Wheat flour that is used in wheat-based products have already lost about 75% of their original zinc content.
A Deficiency in Zinc
A deficiency in zinc usually shows as lack of appetite, a weakened sense of smell or taste, depression and growth problems in children. Frequent infections and colds can also be a sign of a deficiency in zinc. Previous studies have also suggested that a deficiency in zinc can result in problems in sexual maturation.
Aside from not taking in enough zinc from food, digestive tract problems can also contribute to a deficiency of zinc in the body. Digestive problems like irritable bowel disease can cause the body to be deficient in zinc.
The maximum amount of zinc that the body can take without any harmful effect is 40 mg everyday. Any more than this amount can be harmful for the body. One symptom of zinc toxicity is having a bitter and metallic taste in the mouth. Other symptoms include nausea, cramps, stomach pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.