Zinc – The Important Role it Plays in Health
Zinc is among several minerals that are essential for the smooth functioning of the human body. It enters our bodies through water and food. It is necessary to take a diet that provides adequate amounts of zinc.
The main part in which zinc can be found in the body is the muscles. However, it can also be found in the white and red blood cells, eye retina, skin, bones, pancreas, kidneys and liver.
Although it is rarely discussed, zinc helps with many life sustaining processes. It is necessary for skin repair after having some wounds, strengthening the immune system, the production of essential enzymes and cell reproduction. It is important in all metabolic function, synthesizes of proteins and it takes part in the insulin structure. In chemical reactions, zinc acts as a catalyst for almost a hundred different enzymes.
Other roles that zinc plays in the body include the enhancement of digestion, physical growth, reproduction, increasing appetite, controlling diabetes, reducing the level of stress and enhancing taste and smell. In addition to that, it is involved in a number of complex biochemical reactions such as carbohydrate metabolism and acts as an antioxidant.
According to the physician who discovered zinc deficiency, it is said to be caused by a cereal grain diet, which consists of unleavened bread since it blocks zinc absorption in the body. Once the bread is leavened, yeast is raised and this enhances easy absorption of zinc. Zinc deficiency is very common in people who consume a lot of alcohol. Some characteristics of people with zinc deficiency include the following:
- Dark skin as a result of excessive pigmentation
- Presence of stretch marks on the thighs, hips, breasts, abdomen and shoulders
- Poor growth of hair and nails
- Appearance of acne
- The splitting of hair and easy breakage
- Exhibition of opaquely white or white spots on the brittle nail
- slow healing of wounds
- Experiencing difficulties when having sex
- Delayed or irregular menstruation cycle in females
- Small immature sex organs and scanty public hair in males
- Oily skin
- lack of appetite
- Loss of hair
- Lethargy and apathy among others.
How to Obtain Zinc
Having known that zinc is very essential in our bodies, it is important to know how to obtain it in order to enhance the running of various body activities. If you are healthy, it is necessary to avoid alcohol and frozen food as much as possible. This is because frozen foods are normally treated with chelating agents which eliminate most of the zinc. On the other hand, alcohol flushes zinc out of the body in the urine.
If you are experiencing zinc deficiency, it is the high time to look for zinc. It can be obtained from protein diet of fish, red meat, vegetables and pumpkin seeds. Other sources of zinc include oysters, herring, liver, wheat germ, mushrooms, onions, nuts, brewer’s yeast and maple syrup.
Note that food processing affects the content of zinc. For instance, if you stripe grains you will eliminate the zinc and other nutrients present. It is also good to know that canning or freezing of fruits may affect the zinc content. It is always good to know that phytates, fiber, cadmium, copper, calcium folic acid and zinc can affect the absorption of zinc from water and food. Most water contains zinc but daily normal consumption of water provides only limited zinc supply. People with cirrhosis and diabetes should increase their intake of zinc since they are prone to increased excretion of the mineral.
The Amount that One Requires
Some people wonder about amount of zinc that their bodies require. According to the World Health Organization, it is recommendable for adults to consume fifteen milligrams of zinc daily. However, this depends on the sex of an individual. For adult men, 11mg of zinc on a daily basis is enough and 8 mg for female adults. You should not exceed this amount with zinc supplement since doing so could result to colds. Experiments show that you can hinder your immune system if you consume 300 mg of zinc or more. A limit of 40 mg per day for adults is recommended.
Home Remedy for Colds
When one catches cold, which may involve a persistent cough, fever, throat infection and runny nose, zinc can be a remedy. See this article on runny nose remedies. Products such as nasal sprays, lozenges and gels among others that contain zinc can be used. These products reduce common cold symptoms since they reduce protein formation where the virus responsible for causing colds thrives.
The Toxicity of Zinc
Zinc is not highly toxic as compared to other trace elements. However, single large doses can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Excessive zinc can lead to the displacement of copper and a lot of zinc in the gut leads to the interference of iron absorption. Lengthy intake of zinc supplements can cause anemia. It is therefore advisable to visit your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- High fever and chills
- Loss of smell
- Severe throat irritation
- Stomach pain
- Yellow skin and eyes
- Nausea and dizziness
- Body weaknesses
When you visit a physician after experiencing the above symptoms you will probably be diagnosed with a blood test and other tests if necessary. Apart from that, the physician will consider the type of supplement you have taken, time, amount and the duration in which you took the supplement. He/she will then base this with the kind of treatment to receive.
If you see a person showing symptoms of zinc overdose, it is good to give him or her some milk or water. You can also wash his/her skin with cold water. After that it is good to call a doctor who will conduct the diagnoses and then recommend the appropriate medication and duration. He/ she could increase copper intake in order to reduce the effects of zinc poisoning. Besides that, the doctor could recommend plenty of fluids to flush excess zinc out. With that the patient can start feeling better since zinc is reduced.
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