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Zinc is an antioxidant mineral and a component of many enzymes involved in most metabolic Zinc 1 Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition caasnprocesses and digestion. As a potent antioxidant, zinc works synergistically with other antioxidants, such as glutathione peroxidase, beta-carotenevitamin Evitamin C, and selenium, to combat the deadly action of free radicals. Free radical are chemical by-products created when oxygen is burned as fuel in the body`s cells. They are responsible for causing diseases and aging.

As a component of many enzymes, zinc plays an important role in the formation of protein in the body. Zinc is involved in various functions of the body from cell growth to testosterone production.

Effects of Zinc:

1) Increases testosterone levels and subsequently has an effect on the proper development of the reproductive organs and sperm production.

2) Assists in wound healing and speeding the union of the bone fractures.

3) Plays a role in blood formation. Zinc 2 Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition caasn

4) Supports the immune system.

5) Acts as an anti-aging agent by fighting free radicals.

6) Involves in the formation of hair and nails.

7) Is useful in general growth and fetal development.

8) Increases appetite.

9) Is essential for normal taste.

10) Affects behavior and learning performance.

11) Is an important mineral for the prostate gland.

Zinc Deficiency:

Approximately 80% of the total body zinc is in the muscles and bones. The prostate gland, eyes, heart, spleen, lungs, adrenal glands and skin have high concentrations as well. Because the normal amount of zinc in the body is low and there is no storage source to supply it, its level is easily compromised. Zinc deficiency usually results from diet insufficiency. Vegetarians are most likely to have zinc deficiency. Hard exercise and stress are other causes. Zinc deficiency is so widespread that some researchers suggest zinc supplementation for lots of conditions from hair loss to low sexual drive.

Clinical features of zinc shortage include growth retardation and short stature, impotence in men and low libido in women, diminished axillary, facial and pubic hair, loss of ability to smell and taste, night blindness, impaired thyroid function, poor appetite, and delayed healing of wounds and burns. Zinc deficiency may predispose people to alcoholic cirrhosis and also may affect taste.

Non – Athletic Benefits of Zinc:

The following conditions may benefit from zinc:

  1. Acne.
  2. Anemia (that not responding to iron supplementation).
  3. Wound healing.
  4. Broken bones.
  5. Male infertility.
  6. Common cold.
  7. Anorexia nervosa. Zinc 3 Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition caasn
  8. Crohn`s disease.
  9. Diabetes.
  10. Age – related macular degeneration.
  11. Strains and sprains.
  12. Cold sores.
  13. Genital herpes.
  14. Canker sores.
  15. Skin ulcers (topical).
  16. Burns (topical).
  17. Acrodermatitis enteropathica.
  18. Infections.
  19. Compromised immune system.
  20. Osteoporosis.
  21. Liver problems: liver cirrhosis, and hepatitis C.
  22. Night blindness.
  23. Metabolic syndrome.
  24. Prostate problems: prostatitis, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
  25. Down`s syndrome.
  26. Cystic fibrosis.

Food Source and Dosage:

Sufficient intake of zinc is very important for an optimum health. You had better know that one of the best-known causes of testosterone decline in connection with aging is low zinc intake. On the other hand, zinc helps vitamin E keep its proper blood level and also it helps vitamin A absorb efficiently.

For recommended daily allowance for zinc, refer to table below.

Do not use zinc with calcium, iron, manganese, selenium, and copper, because they decrease its absorption, while amino acids increase it.

Zinc 4 Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition caasn

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Zinc:

Age (year)/Status

Zinc (mg)

Infants   (0.0 - 1.0)

5

Children   (1 - 10)

10

Males   (>11)

15

Females   (>11)

12

Pregnancy  

15

Breastfeeding  

19

Athletes  

30 – 300

 

Zinc rich foods have been listed in the following table. Phytate rich foods such as whole grain cereals, and soy products may lower the effective absorption of zinc. Therefore, avoid using them together.

Zinc 5 Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition caasn

Zinc Rich Foods:

Plant Sources

Animal Sources

Lentils

Beans

Sunflower seeds

Oysters

Red meat, beef

Crab

Turkey

Shrimp

Yogurt, plain

Cheese