What is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential mineral that is found in almost every cell. The body
needs zinc for normal growth and health. Zinc plays a variety of biological
roles in the body. It stimulates the activity of approximately 100 enzymes,
which are substances that promote biochemical reactions in your body.
Zinc supports a healthy immune system. This mineral is needed for wound
healing, helps maintain your sense of taste and smell, and is needed for
DNA synthesis. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during
pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.
Food is an important source of zinc and therefore in avoiding zinc deficiency.
Meat, eggs and dairy products contain more zinc than plants. Liver is
a particularly rich source of zinc. High zinc levels are also found in
wheat, nuts, fish, kelp, rye, yeast and oysters.
Zinc deficiency is especially common in adolescents, infants, vegetarians,
seniors and women in general. Certain drugs and nutrients can inhibit
zinc absorption or increase its excretion. Thus, for many people, increasing
the intake of zinc-containing foods or taking a zinc supplement, may be
a prudent form of nutritional insurance. Lack of zinc may lead to poor
night vision and wound-healing, a decrease in sense of taste and smell,
a reduced ability to fight infections, and poor development of reproductive
Supplemental zinc comes in many different types and forms: zinc gluconate,
zinc oxide, zinc aspartate, zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc monomethionine,
and zinc histidine. Zinc picolinate is considered the best. Zinc supplements
are available on a stand-alone basis or in combination with other supplement
A normal dose of zinc is about 15 mg per day. Do not take more than 100
mg per day, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. High doses of zinc
can depress the immune system and lead to side effects such as nausea,
vomiting and dizziness.