Zinc is an essential mineral for the human body. Its wide presence in every cell of the body is because it is required by almost 300 enzymes to sustain the bio-chemical reactions in the body. It helps to make a health immune system, helps to heal cuts and wounds, and also assists the senses that are involved in taste and smell. It is a must for normal health and is vital for growth during pregnancy, and also in the childhood and adolescent years.
A deficiency of zinc can occur if the diet does not contain food which has adequate zinc content. Signs of zinc deficiency are general and not specific. It could cause poor appetite, weight loss, and poor vision in the night time, slow healing of wounds, a lack of taste and smell, a lethargic mind and lack of development in the reproductive organs. This can further aggravate to cause diarrhea, hair loss, skin infection and other infections that keep recurring.
Zinc is found in whole grains, meat, poultry and oysters. People who are vegetarians may find their zinc in legumes and nuts. Zinc supplements are also one way of ensuring that you consume the right amount of zinc. If galvanized cookware is used, it can add to the zinc content in the diet.
People who consume very few calories can suffer from zinc deficiencies. Alcoholics generally suffer from low zinc in their bodies, but this is generally due to the fact they do not eat properly and their diets are deficient in calories. Vegetarians are more likely to have a zinc deficiency as zinc from plant sources does not get absorbed by the body easily.
There are diseases and body conditions that require that you have zinc supplements. This could be when you are alcoholic, suffer from burns, and have diabetes or Down’s syndrome. Many types of eating disorders and intestinal diseases can cause this deficiency. Liver disease and kidney disease can also require that you have zinc supplements. Abdominal surgery, sickle cell disease, skin disorders and traumas could also make your medical practitioner suggest that you have zinc supplements.
The immune system is very much affected by even a small deficiency in zinc; such patients may not be able to easily resist infections. This is because the T-cell lymphocytes and white blood cells that resist infections are made inefficient by the shortage of zinc. A supplement of zinc enables the number of T-cell lymphocytes to increase thus forming a barrier to infections. It also reduces the period where infectious diarrhea has infected the patient. They are also suggested where skin ulcers and bed sores are prevalent.
Zinc supplements are best taken one or two before or after meals for their beneficial effects. They can cause stomach upsets, and in such a case they are best taken with the meal. Zinc lozenges are supposed to reduce the periods that colds affect an individual, but the taste of these lozenges has led to their being quite unpopular. There is however a real health risk in taking too much of zinc. Where intakes have been between 150 mg and 450 mg per day the immune function is reduced as is the good cholesterol. The safe dosage is considered to be just 15 mg per day.
You can increase zinc in your diet by eating meat and oysters, fish and poultry. Also eat whole grain like wheat, rye or oats. Pack in those pecans, Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds. Season your food with ginger, mustard, chili powder and black pepper. The cooking of vegetables results in a loss of zinc. Processed flour has much less zinc than the unprocessed variety.