Zinc - Hastens Healing - Information on Deficiency, Benefits, Food Sources

The human need for zinc is small, but its role in growth and well-being is enormous, starting even before birth. The entire body of a normal man weighing 70 kg may contain 1.4 to 2.3 g of zinc. Zinc is present in small amounts in all tissues. The bones, teeth, and the pancreas contain slightly higher amounts of zinc than other tissues. Whole blood contains about 0.7 mg/100 ml, while blood serum or plasma contains 0.1 mg/100 ml.

The importance that zinc played towards the growth and well-being of the albino rat was demonstrated by W. R. Todd in 1934. This was confirmed by other research workers on mice and birds. In 1939, Keilin and J. I. Mann showed that zinc was a constituent of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase. Zinc has also been found in some other, enzymes, such as in the pancreatic hormone insulin.

Zinc is a bluish-white, metallic element. It is present in the body mostly in combination with other constituents of the body.

About 20 to 30 per cent of the zinc in foods is absorbed by the body through the small intestine. This absorption is decreased by fibres, calcium, copper, phytate, and phosphate in pulses. In contrast, amino acids and peptides increase zinc absorption. Nearly 99 per cent of the total zinc in the body is stored in cells and the remainder in the plasma and extracellular fluids. Excretion of zinc occurs principally through secretions of the pancreas and intestine.

Recommended Daily Allowance - Zinc
Men 15 mg
Women 12 mg
Children 10 mg
Infants 5 mg

Zinc Benefits - Functions in the Body

Zinc is needed for a healthy skin and hair, proper healing of wounds, successful pregnancies, and male virility. It plays a vital role in guarding against disease and infection. It is needed to transport vitamin A to the retina. Almost all the enzymes in the body require zinc for their functioning. It has long been known that growth and sexual maturity depend on zinc amongst other things.

Zinc Rich Food Sources

Cereals, nuts and oilseeds are important sources of zinc. Vegetables and fruits contain only a small quantity of zinc.

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

Zinc deficiency in the diet has been reported to be the cause of anaemia, retardation in growth, and delayed genital maturation. White spots on the fingernails means dietary Zinc is not being absorbed. Taking a Zinc multivitamin will usually take care of it.

Zinc Side Effects - Precautions

Excessive intake of zinc can cause loss of iron and copper in the body. Toxicity can result from inhalation of zinc fumes by welders. Inhalation of high concentrations of zinc oxide fumes leads to an acute illness called metal fume fever or brass chills, characterised by fever, chills, excessive salivation, headaches, and a cough.

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