Published: 10/11/2014 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Zinc is an indispensable element in our daily diet. More than 85% of it is deposited in muscles, pigment tissues in the eyes, nails, hair, and testicles. This mineral is primarily absorbed by the small intestine (the small intestine is the fasted area to transport this mineral). It is eliminated through feces by biliary secretions, as well as pancreatic and intestinal secretions. When zinc levels become too low in the body, they are the transported more quickly, whereby the albumin is primarily responsible for transporting it to the liver through portal circulation. From there it is distributed to the different areas previously mentioned.
Zinc forms part of 100 enzymes related to retinol, the metabolism of proteins and glucides, as well as synthesizing insulin, RNA, and DNA.
A few benefits and functions of zinc in health and beauty are:
- Helps regulate sebaceous gland activity by preventing, and helping cure, oily skin, seborrhea, acne, etc.
- Involved in protein and collagen synthesis.
- Helps heal wounds.
- Indispensable collaborator for proper prostate gland functioning and the development of reproductive organs.
- Protects the liver from damage and irritating agents.
- Is a fundamental factor in forming bones, and helps maintain the skeletal system in good health.
- Helps keep the body’s immune system defenses strong, intensifying the body’s defense response to illnesses and contagions.
- Forms part of insulin.
- Zinc is a potent natural antioxidant, as it is one of the components in the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
- Increases good vitamin A absorption.
- Involved in growth and development, which is why it is indispensable during pregnancy, and childhood and adolescent years.
- Helps maintain olfactory and taste senses, along with maintain normal ocular functions.
Where to find Zinc
Fortunately, zinc is a very abundant mineral in foods, both in animal foods and well as plant-based foods. It is more easily absorbed when procured from animal proteins, although it is also available in several vegetables.
Foods with high zinc content
- Fish, seafood, oysters, meat, birds, liver, egg yolk, yogurt, cheese, etc.
- Legumes (lentils, beans, etc)
- Brewer’s yeast
- Seaweed (spirulina, kelp, agar agar, etc.)
- Mushrooms and fungi
- Dried fruits, like almonds, pecans, peanuts, etc.
- Soy lecithin
- Vegetables like soy and sprouts
- Whole grains
Daily recommended Zinc dosage:
The daily zinc requirement is approximately 2 to 10 mg. This zinc dosage is generally covered naturally with a balanced daily diet.
Zinc deficiency causes:
It is very difficult to have a zinc deficiency if you have a balanced diet. However, it could be that you are not properly absorbing this mineral, or a deficient diet or a poorly combined diet, could cause deficiencies or a lack of zinc (hypozincemia). There are also certain conditions that cause lower levels of zinc in the body, like hepatic cirrhosis, diabetes, and kidney failure. A genetic factor could also influence this deficiency, like enteropathica acrodermatitis (hereditary children’s disease), which is a disease that manifests as an inability to properly absorb dietary zinc. Excessive sweating as well as drinking hard water would cause zinc loss.
Zinc deficiency, or lack thereof, could cause:
- Oily skin or problems with acne, seborrhea, etc.
- Loss of appetite.
- Changes in the eyeball.
- Weakness and white marks in the nails.
- Loss or weakness of taste or olfactory sense.
- Retardation in sexual development.
- Hair loss.
- Tiredness and fatigue.
- Infertility and impotence
- Changes in growth.
- Weak and deficient immune system, sickly body and one that easily becomes ill.
- Increase in cholesterol levels.
- Deficient wound healing and a propensity to skin lesions.
- Prostate disorders
Zinc supplements are recommended for:
- Pregnant or nursing women
- Children and youth
- People who are anemic, malnourished, or anorexic, etc.
- People with diarrhea.
- Individuals with malabsorption syndrome like Celiacs (people who are intolerant to gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, etc.), Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.
- Elderly people
What inhibits zinc absorption?
Excessive doses of iron, combining calcium with phytic acid, phytates (present in whole grains like corn and rice that combine with this mineral (zinc), blocking its absorption). Excessive medications like antibiotics, antispasmodics, diuretics, contraceptives, and corticoids severely affect its absorption.
About the author