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Zinc – A Very Important Mineral for Your Body


  • Zinc minerals are essential for many crucial body functions. It can be found naturally in oysters, meat, nuts, beans, milk and whole grains
  • Vegetarian diets can cause a zinc deficiency so for vegetarians a zinc supplement may be a good idea
  • Zinc is important to the function of your immune system and the absorption of Vitamin A

Zinc is a very important mineral as it is involved in a high number of crucial bodily functions. It is essential to growth (including hair growth) and development (including fetal development during pregnancy, child and adolescent development), the immune system, senses of taste and smell, and reproductive functions. It is also said to have beneficial effect on the prostate gland and to increase blood levels of testosterone.

Natural sources of zinc include oysters, meat (including liver), wheat germ, seeds and nuts (especially pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds), whole grains, and milk. Meat is an important source of zinc. Vegetarian diets can cause a zinc deficiency largely because phytates found mainly in grains and common in vegetarian diets, react with zinc to make it impossible for the body to absorb it. It is therefore very important that anyone on, or thinking about starting a vegetarian diet, should consider a zinc supplement.

As well as being important to the function of your immune system, zinc also helps the body fight infection, and in particular, cold and flu. It is also helpful in recovering from a sore throat or soft tissue injuries such as cuts and grazes, burns or wounds caused by surgery. Zinc also plays an important role in the absorption of vitamin A and the release of stored vitamin A in the liver. Zinc has a number of topical uses including in the treatment of diaper rash and acne. It may also improve athletic performance, particularly in those people who might be deficient.

A deficiency in Zinc can be caused either by taking in an inadequate amount or inadequate absorption of zinc that has been ingested. It may also be caused by your body excreting an excessive amount of zinc, or an increased requirement for the mineral. Symptoms of a deficiency in zinc can include retarded growth, loss of hair, diarrhea, impotence, eye and skin conditions, and loss of appetite. Symptoms may also include a reduction in body weight, delayed healing of cuts, grazes and wounds, and tiredness. If you suspect you are deficient in zinc, see your doctor, and he will be able to measure the level of zinc in your system.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

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  1. 1
    Michelle Says:
    I am a veggie and have been for ages. Is it really true that vegetarians are deficient in zinc, or is this just more hype to sell tablets? Can my doctor do a zinc test, and if so will he figures mean anything? (is there a reliable figure for how much zinc we should have in our system?)