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).


Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed by Giorgio La Fata on 29.09.2017


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Health Functions

Zinc is involved in many functions including the immune system, fertility, reproduction, and the maintenance of normal bone, vision, skin, hair and nails.

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

    The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of zinc is dependent on age, gender, and other factors.

  • 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

    Mild zinc deficiency symptoms include impaired physical and neuropsychological development and susceptibility to life-threatening infections in children.

  • Sources

    Foods high in zinc include shellfish, beef, and other red meats. Cashews, almonds, and 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.