Zinc is an essential trace mineral and is essential for all the living organisms. At any point of time the human body consists of 2-4 g of zinc. Most of the zinc in the body is concentrated in brain, muscles, bones, liver and prostate glands. Human semen contains good amount of zinc, and that is reason zinc deficiency and hair loss associated with zinc deficiency is related to semen loss.
Zinc is required for proper functioning of around 300 enzymes in the human body. All these biological functions make zinc as one of the most important trace minerals.
Zinc – Dietary Sources
Dry beans, mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, spinach, asparagus, green peas, yoghurt, whole grains, black currant, oats, nuts and seeds are generally very good sources of Zinc. Among seeds pumpkin seeds are one of the richest sources of zinc. A regular intake of small quantities of pumpkin seeds can prevent zinc deficiency.
Biological Functions of Zinc
Zinc is an essential trace mineral with numerous significant biological functions. Some of the important biological functions of zinc are:
- Plays a significant role in the metabolism of DNA and RNA
- Aids in proper functioning of brain. It is often termed as the brian’s dark horse
- Aids in proper health of hair follicles and improves fertility
Zinc – Deficiency
Zinc deficiency is slowly becoming a major issue in the developing countries and in those countries where the soil for cultivation lacks zinc (like Turkey and India). Vegetarians who are not taking a diet rich in zinc can have zinc deficiency. The major symptoms of this deficiency are impotence and delayed sexual maturation, alopecia, eye and skin lesions, impaired appetite, altered cognition, slowed down growth, diarrhea, and reproductive issues. Not only in humans even animals with zinc deficiency will struggle to gain weight.
Zinc – Requirements and supplements
While zinc deficiency can cause numerous illness, zinc over dose can be far more harmful. So one should be careful about the amount of zinc that he consumes. On an average for a normal individual the daily requirement of zinc is close to11 mg/day for men and 8 mg/day for women. Certain seeds and cereal bran will have phytates which inhibits zinc absorption, so vegetarians must focus on consuming the foods that are rich in zinc.
When the daily intake exceeds the the specified limits by a big margin, then it can lead to zinc toxicity. The symptoms are corrosion of stomach lining, renal failures, and may result in poor absorption of other minerals. Zinc overdose may also cause damage to the nerve receptors in the nose and one might lose the ability to smell. We always recommend natural sources (especially vegetable sources)of nutrients, when it comes zinc the best natural vegetarian source is pumpkin seeds. It can also be consumed in the fried form as a delicious snack.
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