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Zinc and Health

Zinc and Health

Zinc has been a well known requirement for nearly all living beings for hundreds of years. Especially vital for children, zinc is a requirement for normal growth and development.

Zinc is used for treatment and prevention of zinc deficiency and its consequences, including stunted growth and acute diarrhea in children, and slow wound healing. It is also used for boosting the immune system, treating the common cold and recurrent ear infections, and preventing lower respiratory infections.

Zinc Deficiency

Deficiencies in zinc affect the skin and the intestines, as well as the majority of the skeletal, reproductive, and immune systems. For years, the most noted clinical feature of zinc deficiency is severe growth retardation. Adults who suffered zinc deficiencies were noted to have hypogonadism, macular degeneration, poor wound healing, and intellectual disability.

The most common signs and symptoms associated with zinc deficiency include:
  • Changes in appetite, including food cravings for salty or sweet foods.
  • Changes in ability to taste and smell.
  • Weight gain or loss.
  • Hair loss.
  • Digestive problems, including diarrhea.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Infertility.

Zinc in Diet

The human body can only get approximately 20%-40% of zinc from the food that we eat. If you have a zinc deficiency, then animal foods are better sources of zinc than plant foods. Foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, lamb, toasted wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, pork, chicken, beans, and mushrooms.

How Much Do We Need to Experience These Zinc Benefits?

According to the USDA, the dietary reference intakes for zinc below are based on age and gender:

Infants:

  • 0–6 months: 2 milligrams/day
  • 7–12 months: 3 milligrams/day

Children:

  • 1–3 years: 3 milligrams/day
  • 4–8 years: 5 milligrams/day
  • 9 –13 years: 8 milligrams/day

Adolescents and adults:

  • Males age 14 and over: 11 milligrams/day
  • Females age 14 to 18 years: 9 milligrams/day
  • Females age 19 and over: 8 milligrams/day

 

Zinc is usually available in various forms, including lozenges, syrups, gels and capsules. Zinc is also found in most multivitamin and mineral supplements. These supplements can contain zinc in the form of zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate or zinc acetate. As of now, all are believed to work in very similar ways so one type is not thought to be superior over the others.

Factors that affect zinc absorption are pregnancy, skin disorders, and other diseases that affect the immune system, kidneys, liver, and heart. People who suffer from metabolic disorders and cancer should also ask their doctor for the right zinc dosage, as well as the possibility of zinc supplementation to ensure adequate zinc intake.

References:

Amazing Facts About Zinc

https://draxe.com/zinc-benefits/

[1] Human Rhinoviruses. American Society for Microbiology. http://cmr.asm.org/content/26/1/135.full.pdf+html

[2] Oral Zinc and Common Childhood Infections – An update. Journal of
Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X14000728

[3] Introducing zinc in a diarrhoeal control programme. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/9789241596473/en/

[4] Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition. Elsevier. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/5/1344S.full.pdf

[5] Impact of the discovery of human zinc deficiency on health. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X14001710

[6] Zinc. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/zinc

[7] Zinc. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/zinc/dosing/hrb-20060638

Amazing Facts About Zinc graphic © herbs-info.com/naturalhealthzone.org.
Food images – Wikipedia lic. under CC (see foot of article for full license info)

Connie

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