Thursday, February 2nd, 2023 06:14:14


Updated: September 8, 2016 12:11 pm

Zinc is one of the important trace minerals required by our body. It is second only to iron in its concentration in the body.  Zinc is naturally present in several of the foods we consume.  It is an essential chemical for human functioning.

The function of zinc in our body

  • We need zinc for healthy growth.
  • It is needed for us to have sense of smell and taste.
  • It enhances the action of insulin.
  • It plays a role in cell division, cell growth and wound healing.

Zinc deficiency leads to:-

  • If a child is deficient in zinc, it may result in dwarfism, stunted growth and being underweight for his/her age.
  • Often zinc deficiency could be a symptom of a bigger problem such as a major illness.
  • Many times it may cause illness or at least contribute to an illness.
  • Zinc deficiency is characterised by growth retardation, loss of appetite and impaired immune function.
  • Cholesterol in the body has a tendency to rise if there is insufficient zinc in the body.
  • In more severe cases it can cause hair loss, diarrhea, eye, skin lesions, delayed wound healing, taste abnormalities and mental lethargy. Many of these symptoms are non specific and often associated with other illnesses. So a medical examination is necessary to ascertain the zinc deficiency.

Zinc deficiency can be treated by:-

  • Taking zinc supplements and increasing intake of foods rich in zinc.
  • Foods rich in zinc are wheat, oats, pumpkin seeds, eggs, milk, oysters, nuts, pork, beef, meat, peas etc.
  • Fruits and vegetables are not good sources because the zinc in plant protein is not as available by the body for use as the animal protein.
  • So, low protein diets and vegetarian diets tend to be low in zinc.


Zinc benefits:-

  • Zinc benefits the body in many ways. It helps with hormone production, growth and repairment.
  • It helps in improving immunity and facilitates digestion.
  • Zinc may have therapeutic benefits for several common chronic diseases like fighting cancer or reversing heart diseases.
  • It acts like anti-oxidant within the body, helps fight free radical damage and slows down the aging process.
  • Zinc plays an important role in balancing hormones.
  • It fights diabetes.
  • It supports liver health.
  • It helps in muscle growth and repair.
  • Zinc helps in maintaining vision. It is present in high concentrations in the eye. Zinc deficiency can alter vision and can cause changes in the retina.
  • According to a study zinc is found to reverse brain cell changes in autism.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency:-

  • Loss of appetite, loss of ability to taste and smell.
  • Losing or gaining weight.
  • Indigestion, diarrhea
  • Low immunity, hair loss, fatigue
  • Hormonal problems, infertility
  • Skin infections, irritation
  • Low immunity, poor concentration and memory.

So, keep eating protein rich food and stay healthy. If diagnosed with zinc deficiency one should consult a physician for dosage and type of zinc supplement to be taken.  Unless prescribed by your physician it is better to stay away from over the counter medicines.

by Suguna Nibhanapudi


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