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Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is found in almost every cell. There are 2–4 grams of zinc in the human body. It is a part of more than 100 enzymes.
Zinc is important for a healthy immune system, a healthy skin, wound healing, taste and smell, DNA synthesis and function, normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.
In the brain, zinc plays a key role in normal functioning of the brain and central nervous system. The body has no zinc storage.
Oysters, lobster and red meats, especially beef, lamb and liver have some of the highest concentrations of zinc.
Zinc absorption is greater from a diet high in animal protein than a diet rich in plant proteins.
Phytates, which are found in whole grain breads, cereals, legumes and other products, can inhibit zinc absorption.
When there is adequate zinc in the soil, the food plants that contain the most zinc are wheat (germ and bran) and various seeds (sesame, poppy, alfalfa, celery, mustard).
Zinc is also found in beans, nuts, almonds, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and blackcurrant.
The recommended intake is 8 mg/day for women and 11 mg/day for men.
If you need zinc supplementation, zinc glycinate may be preferable since it is particularly well absorbed.
Supplementation should probably not exceed 20 mg/day in healthy people. U.S. National Research Council has set a Tolerable Upper Intake of 40 mg/day. Here is a list of foods having the highest content of zinc.
Zinc deficiency can lead to depressed growth, diarrhea, impotence and delayed sexual maturation, alopecia, eye and skin lesions, delayed wound healing, impaired appetite, altered cognition, and impaired host defense.
Acute adverse effects of high zinc intake include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. Chronic high intake of zinc may adversely affect urinary physiology.
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