Zinc is an antioxidant which protects the body from damaging free radicals and supports a strong immune system. In this article you will read about this nutrient in greater detail and you’ll get a summary of its main functions, the best food sources, the recommended daily allowances (RDAs), and the potentially adverse effects of consuming too much or too little.
Awareness of zinc ores dates back to prehistoric times. In the 13th century a process was developed in India to isolate zinc from its ores. However, the Swiss alchemist and physician Paracelsus was the first person to be credited with the discovery of zinc in 1526 when he wrote about its properties. In 1746 the German chemist Andreas Marggraf became the first Westerner to isolate zinc.
As discussed above, zinc is an antioxidant which protects your body from damaging free radicals. Its other protective roles in the body include assisting in the healing of wounds, offering protection from prostate cancer, protecting against skin conditions (such as acne and eczema), reducing stress levels and strengthening the immune system (by supporting the production of white blood cells). In addition to this, zinc promotes the production of male sperm, increases insulin sensitivity within the body's cells, promotes healthy metabolism, promotes improved brain function, supports skeletal growth and supports the production of multiple thyroid hormones.
The RDA for zinc generally increases with age but is highest amongst pregnant and lactating women. Children aged between 0 and 6 months need to consume just 2 milligrams (mg) of this nutrient each day. This requirement increase to 5mg per day for children aged between 4 and 8 years and then increases again to 8mg per day for children aged between 9 and 13 years. The RDA for male adults aged 14 years and older is 11mg whilst the RDA for females of the same age is 9mg. Pregnant women aged 19 years and older are advised to consume 11mg of zinc each day whilst lactating women of the same age are advised to consume 12mg each day. The tolerable upper limit (TUL) for zinc is 40mg a day.
4) FOOD SOURCES:
Foods that are high in protein are normally high in zinc. Some of the best zinc food choices include cheddar cheese (3.1mg per 100 grams (g)), oysters (90.8mg per 100g), peanuts (6.6mg per 100g) and roast beef (10mg per 100g).
5) OVERDOSE SYMPTOMS:
It is difficult to exceed the TUL for zinc through your diet. However, excessive consumption of zinc supplements can lead to an overdose for which the symptoms include anemia (a low red blood cell count), a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth, diarrhea mixed with blood, reduced absorption of copper, magnesium and iron, stomach pain and vomiting.
6) DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:
Dietary deficiencies of zinc are quite common. However, bowel problems, chronic diarrhea and extreme sweating can also contribute to a deficiency by removing this nutrient from the body. In addition to this, certain medications can interfere with the absorption of zinc and cause a deficiency. The symptoms of zinc deficiency include depression, diarrhea, hair loss, an increased susceptibility to infection, a poor appetite, slow healing of wounds and a weak immune system.
Disclaimer: The videos, posts, and comments contained in our *Health & Weight Loss Categories* on this website are not medical advice or a treatment plan and are intended for general education and demonstration purposes only. They should not be used to self-diagnose or self-treat any health, medical, or physical condition. Don’t use this website to avoid going to your own healthcare professional or to replace the advice they give you. Consult with your healthcare professional before doing anything contained on this website.