Zinc Function in Human Body

Zinc is a crucial trace element that people have to stay healthy. Of the trace element, this aspect is second just to iron in its concentration in the body.

Zinc Function in Human Body

Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It is needed for the body’s defensive (immune) system to effectively work. It plays a role in cell division, cell development, injury healing, and the breakdown of carbs.

Zinc is also needed for the senses of smell and taste. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood the body requires zinc to grow and establish correctly. Zinc likewise enhances the action of insulin.

Recent info from a professional review on zinc supplements showed that:

  • When considered a minimum of 5 months, zinc might reduce your risk of becoming sick with the cold.
  • Starting to take zinc supplements within 24 hours after cold symptoms begin might reduce for how long the symptoms last and make the symptoms less severe. Nevertheless, supplements beyond the RDA is not recommended at this time.

Food Sources

Animal proteins are a good source of zinc. Beef, pork, and lamb include more zinc than fish. The dark meat of a chicken has more zinc than the light meat.

Other great sources of zinc are nuts, whole grains, beans, and yeast.

Vegetables and fruits are not good sources, since the zinc in plant proteins is not as offered for use by the body as the zinc from animal proteins. For that reason, low-protein diets and vegetarian diets have the tendency to be low in zinc.

Zinc remains in many multivitamin and mineral supplements. These supplements may contain zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, or zinc acetate. It is unclear whether one kind is better than the others.

Zinc is also found in some over the counter medications, such as cold lozenges, nasal sprays, and nasal gels.

Side Effects

Symptoms of zinc deficiency consist of:

  • Frequent infections
  • Hypogonadism in males
  • Hair loss
  • Poor hunger
  • Issues with the taste
  • Problems with the sense of odor
  • Skin sores
  • Slow development
  • Difficulty seeing in the dark
  • Wounds that take a very long time to heal

Zinc supplements taken in big amounts might cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. These symptoms usually appear within 3 to 10 hours of swallowing the supplements. The symptoms disappear within a brief period of time after stopping the supplements. An excess consumption of zinc can cause copper or iron shortage.

Individuals who use nasal sprays and gels which contain zinc may have side effects, such as losing their sense of odor.

Also read: Zinc Deficiency and Male Fertility


Suggestions for zinc, in addition to other nutrients, are supplied in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine. DRI is a term for a set of recommendation consumptions that are used to prepare and evaluate the nutrient consumption of healthy individuals. These values, which differ by age and gender, include:

Advised Dietary Allowance (RDA): The average everyday level of consumption that suffices to satisfy the nutrient needs of almost all (97 to 98%) healthy people. An RDA is an intake level based upon clinical research proof.

Sufficient Intake (AI): This level is developed when there is not enough scientific research evidence to establish an RDA. It is set at a level that is believed to ensure enough nutrition.

Infants (AI)

  • 0 to 6 months: 2 milligrams each day (mg/day)
  • 7 to 12 months: 3 mg/day

Children (RDA)

  • 7 to 12 months: 3.0 mg/day
  • 1 to 3 years: 3 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years: 5 mg/day
  • 9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day

Adolescents and Adults (RDA)

  • Males, age 14 and over: 11 mg/day
  • Women, age 14 to 18: 9 mg/day
  • Females, age 19 and over: 8 mg/day
  • Pregnant women, age 19 and over: 11 mg/day
  • Lactating females, age 19 and over: 12 mg/day

The best way to obtain the day-to-day requirement of necessary vitamins and minerals is to eat a balanced diet that contains a range of foods.

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