What is it?
Zinc is the most widely used mineral in the body, thought to be involved in at least two hundred different enzymes in the body.
What does it do?
- Plays an important role in cell division and is therefore essential for growth and repair of body tissues. So it is important in wound healing and for the maintenance of health skin (including mucus membranes).
- Essential for three of our senses, vision, taste and smell.
- Profoundly effects the immune system, boosting levels of white blood cells, T cells and function of the thymus.
- Has a natural antiviral effect, i.e helps the body to fight viruses, including the common cold.
- Important for pregnancy not just for the growth of the foetus but also because it is a component of the genetic materials RNA and DNA.
- Important for reproductive health as it is involved in moderating hormone activity. Also involved in sperm production and motility so a deficiency can have a negative effect on fertility.
- Poor sense of taste or smell
- White marks on fingernails
- Frequent colds and infections
- Acne or greasy skin
- Pale skin
- Hair loss
Absorption may be blocked by naturally occurring substances called oxalates (spinach, rhubarb) and phytates (wheatbran), diets high in calcium or excess sugar intake. High copper levels, alcohol, stress and the toxic trace mineral cadmium all reduce zinc uptake.
Works with vitamins A, E and B6 and minerals magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.
Recommended Daily Amount (RDA)
Therapeutic amounts are generally considered to be higher than RDAs. However high doses should always be considered in conjunction with a healthcare practitioner.
Oysters are the richest source of zinc. Other good sources include shellfish, meat (especially offal, including kidney and liver), nuts and seeds, wholegrains, pulses, peas, turnips, parsley, garlic, carrots. Animal sources tend to be better absorbed as they do not contain phytates or oxalates.
Very high doses, in excess of 2g may cause gastro-intestinal problems.