Zinc

Zinc (Zn) is found in nearly 100 different enzymes and as such is an essential building block for all life. Zinc is the second most common trace mineral in the body after iron and is present in every living cell.

The human body contains approximately three grams of zinc, the highest concentrations of which are located in the prostate gland and the eye.
 
Particularly in developing countries, zinc deficiency is regarded as an important public health issue by scientists (1).

Health Functions

Zinc plays important roles in growth and development, the immune response, neurological function, and reproduction. On the cellular level, the function of zinc can be catalytic, structural, and regulatory (2).

Disease Risk Reduction

Growth retardation and delays in weight gain in children are common symptoms of mild zinc deficiency.

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Things to know about Zinc

  • Other Applications

    Zinc is found in high concentrations in the retina but these concentrations decrease with age.

  • Intake Recommendations

    In 1993, the European Scientific Committee for Food set population reference intakes (PRI) for zinc in milligrams (mg) per day (61).

  • Supply Situation

    National dietary surveys in Europe and the U.S. estimated that the average dietary zinc intake was 9 mg/day for adult women and 13 mg/day for adult men (62, 3).

  • Deficiency

    The symptoms of mild zinc deficiency include impaired physical and neuropsychological development and increased susceptibility to life-threatening infections in young children (64).

  • Sources

    Shell fish, beef, and other red meats are rich sources of zinc. Nuts (e.g., cashews and almonds) and legumes (e.g., beans) are relatively good plant sources of zinc.

  • Safety

    Isolated outbreaks of acute zinc toxicity have occurred as a result of the consumption of food or beverages contaminated with zinc released from galvanized containers.

  • References

    Consult the full list of scientific references.