Zinc: health effects, zinc deficiency-Metalpedia
  • Zinc: health effects
  • Zinc is one of the essential elements for human health and it is part of the composition of more than 200 kinds of enzyme, which is why it is known as “the flower of life”. Although the total amount of zinc in humans is smaller than one soya bean, its significance for human health cannot be ignored. However, blindly using supplementation is also inadvisable, as it can be harmful to humans. The details are as follows:
  • Participating in enzyme components
  • Zinc is a component in more than 200 kinds of enzyme in the human body which play important roles in the metabolisms of protein, fat, sugar and nucleic acids. They include carbonic anhydrase, pancreatic carboxypeptidase, DNA polymerase, aldehyde dehydrogenase, glutamate dehydrogenase, malate dehydrogenase, lactate dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase and pyruvate oxidase.
  • Promoting the body's growth and tissue regeneration
  • Zinc is a necessary component in regulating gene expression, whether in regulation of DNA replication, translation or transcription of DNA polymerase. Therefore, the outstanding symptoms of zinc deficiency are restricted growth, and the obstruction of protein synthesis, DNA and RNA metabolisms. If zinc deficiency occurs in pregnant women, the result will be fetal congenital malformation in bone, brain, heart, eyes, gastrointestinal tract and lungs, and fetal mortality will increase. For children or adults, zinc deficiency can cause zinc deficiency dwarfism. In addition, zinc is vital for promoting the growth of sexual reproductive organs and maintaining healthy sexual function. Zinc deficiency will delay sexual maturity, cause sexual reproductive organs dysplasia, reduce sexual function, and result in sperm decrease, secondary hypoplasia, and abnormal menstruation. If zinc supplementation is treated in time, these symptoms can improve or disappear. In addition, zinc deficiency can slow down the body’s healing process in both adults and children. What is more, zinc is necessary for processes of cell growth, division and differentiation.
  • Maintaining immune function
  • In recent years, zinc has attracted the public’s attention in maintaining immune function. Zinc deficiency damages T cell function, causes changes to cell mediated immunity, weakens immune mechanisms, and reduces resistance, finally making the body vulnerable to bacterial infections.
  • Protecting the skin
  • Zinc deficiency may have an influence on skin health, causing pachulosis and dry skin, for instance.
  • Influencing appetite
  • Zinc deficiency may have a negative effect on the gustatory system, which influences appetite and causes amblygeustia. Oral histidine may be a result of zinc deficiency, which may also cause significant loss of appetite.
  • Other effects
  • Zinc promotes the absorption of vitamin A, which is good for eyes clinically.
  • Zinc contributes towards clearing the body’s cholesterol and helps to suppress the occurrence of cancer.
  • Children may suffer recurrent oral ulcers with zinc deficiency.
  • Zinc sources widely exist in all kinds of food, but there is a big difference between the zinc content and absorption utilization rates in plant and animal foods. In animal products, the zinc content is rich and absorption rate is high. On the contrary, in plant-derived foods, zinc content is lower and the absorption rate is less.
  • Animal zinc mainly exists in seafood products and offal, examples being oyster, sea cucumber, herring, meat, liver, eggs, etc.
  • Plants containing zinc include cabbage, beans, white radish, rice, wheat, wheat flour, millet, corn, corn, sorghum, lentil, potatoes, carrot, purple leather turnip, rutabaga, radish sprouts, sweet dry potato, pumpkin, etc.
  • If zinc supplementation is excessive, it may weaken the immune function, cause iron-deficiency anemia, influence the function of the digestive system, damage blood vessels and promote early puberty.
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