Nutrition and Information Guide: Minerals Zinc

About the mineral zinc, nutritional information guide, uses, effects of deficiency or overdose, good sources of zinc.

Zinc

Use in the Body: Necessary for the formation of enzymes and proteins, the respiration of body tissues (primarily the disposal of carbon dioxide), and the process of digestion. It may assist in lowering cholesterol levels. Zinc is a constituent of insulin and male sperm. It also aids in the metabolism of phosphorus.

Deficiency May Lead to: Retarded growth, anemia, and delayed sexual maturity. Deficiency is common in older people and pregnant women and, because of the American diet of refined sugar and flour, certainly not uncommon among the general population. A high intake of calcium requires a greater need for zinc; the 2 are somewhat antagonistic.

Overdose May Lead to: Loss of iron and copper from the liver.

Notes: An essential trace element, zinc is found in most tissue, especially concentrated in the prostate gland, liver, kidneys, pancreas, spermatozoa, and eyes. Zinc may be beneficial in the treatment of Hodgkin's disease, schizophrenia, leukemia, alcoholism, flesh wounds, arteriosclerosis, and sexual or growth retardation. Women on birth-control pills need extra zinc.

Best Sources: Nuts, meat, and shellfish are high. Spices and condiments, grains and cereals, legumes, egg yolks, and most other food, except refined sugar and flour and saturated fats.

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