Zinc is the second most abundant Trace Mineral in human body totalling nearly 2 gm. It has various role in more than 300 enzymatic reactions and act as cofactor in many chemical reactions related to DNA, RNA and Protein Synthesis. Though there is very less chances of zinc deficiencies due to availability through food but the most prevalent reason is the absorption of Zinc from gut.
The major absorption inhibitor found to be Phytic acid present in legumes and cereals. It has been found in various studies that iron also decreases the absorption of Zinc from gut while protein increases the absorption of Zinc. This is the reason why the vegetarian diet low in protein makes one more prone to zinc deficiency.
Women, children, infants and elderly are more prone to Zinc deficiencies due to inadequate zinc in foods, malabsorption and excretion rate.
Conditions associated with Zinc Deficiency
- Retarded Growth in children and adolescents
- Impaired Intestinal Integrity (leaky gut)
- Low immunity (frequent colds, flu and viral infections)
- Increased risk of pneumonia and diarrhoea
- Acne and skin disorders like boils, cysts and allergies
- Low fertility in both men and women
- Memory and cognitive disorders
- Metabolic disorders like obesity and insulin resistance
- Inability to recover from injuries and delayed wound healing
Benefits of Zinc
- Reproductive Health – Low serum Zinc levels are associated with lower testosterone levels and lower sperm count and seminal volume. It also acts as anti aromatase by blocking the aromatase enzyme which converts testosterone to estrogen in male and female there by preventing estrogen related issues in men like Alopecia and Gynecomastia while in female excess oestrogen dominant conditions. It also improved sperm motility and count in males.
- Intestinal Integrity – Zinc is required to keep the intestinal barrier intact by preventing leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut has been related to Autoimmune disorders and food sensitivities.
- Immunity – Higher the zinc levels better is our immunity to deal with infections like common cold, flu and other infection by improving white blood cells count and maintain the intestinal integrity by preventing the microbes from entering into blood through GUT. Currently it has been used in syrup form as an Anti Diarrhoeal agent for kids as Zinc gluconate form.
- Growth and Development – Zinc status has been positively correlated with the skeletal and muscular growth and development in adolescents. The height of children has positive correlation with Zinc status and other micronutrients.
- Skin – Zinc has been used as anti acne agent since ages in the form of ointment and as supplement. Zinc reduces the sebum and prevent the growth the various bacteria on skin acting as anti microbial. It is also included in various burn and wound healing ointments as it speeds up healing process.
Foods Sources of Zinc
- Oysters are the richest source of Zinc with 148 mg/100 g. Each medium size oyster contains nearly 5 mg of zinc.
- Ginger, meats, brazil nuts, egg yolk, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, chicken, tuna, chickpeas, beans contains approximately 2-5 mg/100 gm.