The primary role of zinc is to activate almost 200 enzymes with vital roles in cell regulation, immune function, acid/base balance, DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis, lipid metabolism (burning fat), eisocasnoid production, and digestion. Zinc is also a component of insulin (energy metabolism), thymic hormones (immune function) and gustin (taste acuity).
Symptoms of zinc deficiency include:
- loss of taste
- poor wound healing
- decreased immunity
- delayed growth
- hypogonadism and delayed sexual maturation
- skeletal abnormalities
- behavioral disturbances
- white spots on fingernails
- night blindness
Those at risk for zinc deficiency include alcoholics, malnourished, malabsorption (Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease), long-term parenteral nutrition, chronic renal disease, anorexics, dieters, pregnant women, elderly, and sickle-cell disease.
Dietary Sources rich in zinc are:
- Nutritional supplements
- Red meat
- Soybean products
- Wheat germ
Compounds found in meats enhance absorption of zinc from plant sources.
The 1989 RDA for zinc was 12-15 mg. In general, daily doses up to 50mg of elemental zinc appear safe. Acute toxicity (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, muscle pain) may occur after intake of 1-2 grams of zinc. Chronic intake of 150mg of zinc for several months may impair certain immune responses, decrease HDL, or impair copper status (possibly leading to normocytic anemia).
Significant differences in tolerability between inorganic zinc salts and organic zinc chelates exist with organic chelates and are, therefore, recommended for supplementation. Read about our recommendation for Zinc replacement using Zinc Glycinate.