Zinc is found in almost every cell in the body and is contained within more than 200 enzymes, substances needed for biochemical reactions. Zinc is important for a healthy immune system, for healing cuts and wounds, and for maintaining your sense of taste and smell. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.
Essential Trace Mineral
Zinc is an essential trace mineral. As such, Zinc plays a role in virtually all biochemical pathways and physiological processes. More than 90% of the body’s Zinc is stored in the bones (30%) and muscles (60%), but Zinc is also found in virtually all body tissues. The richest dietary sources of Zinc are seafood (especially oysters), meat, fish, eggs, and poultry.
Zinc in the Diet
Meat and poultry provide the majority of Zinc in the American diet. Other food sources include beans, nuts, and dairy products. Oysters are the food containing the most Zinc by weight, but beef is a more common source in the US diet. Dietary phytates, which are found in whole grain cereals and unleavened bread, may significantly decrease the body’s absorption of Zinc.
People who may benefit from a Zinc supplement include those who do not consume enough calories, vegetarians, the elderly, pregnant and lactating women, and people who suffer from alcoholism or digestive diseases that cause chronic diarrhea.
The body needs Zinc for normal growth and health. For patients who are unable to get enough Zinc in their regular diet or who have a need for more Zinc, Zinc supplements may be necessary. Zinc supplements may be used for other conditions as determined by your health professional.