Zinc trace element information page
Zinc is one of the minerals men should never be without (see lower down on page) and has such a wide application in human health that everybody should ensure that they obtain enough of this humble trace element.
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It is necessary for a healthy immune system, and is also of use in fighting skin problems such as acne, boils and sore throats. It is further needed for cell division, and is needed by the tissue of the hair, nails and skin to be in top form. Zinc is further used in the growth and maintenance of muscles.
Children, for normal growth and sexual development also require zinc.
It also seems as if zinc helps to control the oil glands, and is also required for the synthesis of protein and collagen - which is great for wound healing and a healthy skin.
There is a shortage of zinc in many people's diet, since zinc is destroyed in the milling process and is also lost in cooking. A deficiency will result in an under-performing immune system, open to infections, allergies, night blindness, loss of smell, falling hair, white spots under finger nails, skin problems, sleep disturbances etc.
Men with zinc shortage may have a problem with fertility, while women may experience irregular periods. Children with too little zinc may have stunted growth and slow sexual maturity.
With too little in the body, the sense of smell might suffer, as well as your sense of taste.
The dosage is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), but be aware that this dosage is the minimum that you require per day, to ward off serious deficiency of this particular nutrient. In the therapeutic use of this nutrient, the dosage is usually increased considerably, but the toxicity level must be kept in mind.
In the case of microelements, such as trace elements, the amounts are very small, yet they are still important.
Elevated intake of zinc (1- 2 gram per day) over an extended period can actually harm your immune system instead of assisting it. Intake of zinc should be kept to under 100 mg per day as larger amounts may result in nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness and hallucinations.
It is best to take a zinc supplement separately from other minerals, especially iron, copper, manganese and calcium as they may interfere with zinc absorption. Some people take it at night, but some individuals may react by having an upset stomach if taken on an empty stomach. In a multi-vitamin situation, make sure that the zinc and iron is nearly in the same amounts.
Large intakes of zinc can cause nausea and diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, fever and chills, electrolyte imbalances, dizziness, abdominal pain, lethargy and a disruption of coordination.
A good combination in nutrition would be adequate levels of copper, calcium, phosphorous, selenium, vitamin A, B6 and E.
Men should always ensure enough zinc in their diets, since the health of their prostate gland is linked to zinc. Zinc is needed to manufacture testosterone and a shortage may induce a low sperm count, loss of libido and other emotional problems. Zinc may also be helpful in fighting infection and inflammation of the prostate gland in older men. It is lost on ejaculation, since sperm needs this mineral to swim towards the egg.
If a women is taking a birth control pill, or receiving hormone replacement therapy, extra zinc may be indicated, and all vegans and vegetarians should also consider their zinc intake, as well as people suffering from psoriasis and women while pregnant or lactating.
People consuming large amounts of alcohol may also be at risk of lowered zinc levels.
Meat is a better source of zinc as certain whole grains contain phytic acid, which binds to zinc, making it un-absorbable and zinc is also lost through excessive sweating.
Sucking zinc tablets may help with fighting a cold, although some people experience nausea from sucking these tablets.
Great sources are found in muscle meat, poultry, fish and seafood, while grains, nuts, eggs, seeds and brewer's yeast also supply good quality zinc.