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Human population studies have shown that almost about 2 billion population suffer from Zinc deficiency in the world. Zinc is a trace mineral which is most vital for many of our body’s natural processes. It is not produced in the body but has to be supplemented by food sources and supplements.
The body’s vital processes where zinc plays a significant role are :
1. Zinc acts as a co-factor in almost 1000 enzymes in protein synthesis.
It plays a role in cell division and DNA synthesis.
2. It supports the immune system. Zinc reduces the oxidative stress and stimulates the particular immune cells like the mast cells which helps in fighting bacterial infections, viruses and promotes the immune response. So, it reduces the infection course in common cold. Also, because of it’s antioxidant properties, it helps in reducing inflammations in the body. In the present scenario of COVID 19 pandemic, Zinc is very effective in the prevention and management of COVID 19. Therefore, it is wise for us to daily have Zinc intake through food sources to have a strong and powerful immune system especially these days.
3. It plays a vital role in the growth and development in-utero (during pregnancy), during childhood and adolescence. It plays a vital role in cell proliferation, metabolism. It helps in cognitive functions and learning.
4. It is essential for the proper functioning of the smell and taste senses.
5. It promotes wound healing. Because of anti-inflammatory property and its role in collagen synthesis, zinc is very essential in the healing of burns, ulcers and other skin injuries.
6. Another important function of zinc is that it plays a very important role in neural functioning. It helps to control the brain body’s response to stress. Researches have shown that zinc supplements along with antidepressants given to depressed patients have dramatically improved symptoms.
7. It plays an important role in skin health. It is widely distributed through the layers of the skin. Zinc acts as a transporter in the cells of the skin. Therefore, it’s deficiency causes a lot of skin problems like acne, eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, hyperpigmentation and also alopecia.
8. It is important for prostate health. Zinc concentration is highest in the prostate tissue. It helps in the synthesis of testosterone. Its deficiency can lead to hypogonadism.
9. Zinc helps in the storage of insulin in the beta cells of Pancrease. It is essential in the conversion of proinsulin to insulin. Therefore, zinc is significant in both the production and storage of insulin. Because of it’s, antioxidant properties, Zinc helps in lowering the oxidative damage caused by free radicals and reduces the effects of diabetes-induced complications. So, Zinc supplementation is very important in diabetics patients.
10. Zinc plays a vital role in the synthesis of melanin which is a protective pigment for the eyes. It helps to transport Vitamin A from the liver to the retina and helps in the production of melanin. Zinc deficiency can lead to poor or impaired vision.
So, this magical mineral has tremendous health benefits to talk about. Deficiency can lead to numerous health issues. To name a few like,
Delayed or retarded growth, various skin problems, weakened immune system, chronic diarrhoea, delayed sexual maturity, delayed healing of wounds, early ageing, poor vision and behavioural issues.
Ideally, Zinc required for daily intake in a normal adult is 10 mg/day from food sources. Supplementation of 15-30mg/day is clinically recommended if deficient in Zinc related issues. But higher doses of daily consumption of about 60mg/day for about 10 weeks can lead to Zinc toxicity. Zinc supplementation is given in the form of Zinc acetate, Zinc sulphate, Zinc gluconate, Zinc citrate. Supplementation should be taken always under clinical supervision.
Both plant and animal food sources of Zinc can be absorbed in the body. But, whole grains, legumes, cereals contains phytate which may inhibit the Zinc absorption in the body. This is a fact that needs to be aware of in case of a vegetarian diet. Fortified grains, cereals can be the substitute if deficiency issues arise. Other food sources of Zinc are :
Thanks for reading.
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