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, eicosanoid production, and digestion.
Zinc also is a component of insulin (energy metabolism), thymic hormones (immune function) and gustin (taste acuity).
Symptoms of zinc deficiency include fatigue, dermatitis, acne, loss of taste, poor wound healing, anorexia, decreased immunity, delayed growth, hypogonadism and delayed sexual maturation, diarrhea, skeletal abnormalities, alopecia, behavioral disturbances, white spots on fingernails, infertility and 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 (per serving) are:
- Red Meats
- Wheat Germ
- Soybean Products
- Zinc-Fortified Cereal Products
Compounds found in meats enhance absorption of zinc from plant sources.