We conclude our blog series on vitamins and minerals by featuring zinc! This mineral is found in most cells and plays an important role in cell growth, cell division, and wound healing. It also stimulates the activity of enzymes, strengthens the senses (especially smell and taste), and supports a healthy immune system. In fact, studies have shown that starting zinc supplements within 24 hours after cold symptoms appear may lower the severity of symptoms and how long the symptoms last. Zinc also assists in the breakdown of carbohydrates and DNA synthesis.
Low protein diets and vegetarian diets tend to be zinc deficient because fruits and vegetables are not good sources of zinc. The zinc found in plant proteins is not as available for use by the body as the zinc in animal products. Deficiency symptoms include frequent infections, loss of hair, poor appetite, slow growth, skin sores, and issues with sense of smell and taste. If you think you might have a zinc deficiency, consult your doctor about adding a supplement to your diet.
Toxicity is rare in healthy individuals, however, zinc supplements taken in large amounts may cause abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. An excess intake of zinc can lead to copper or iron deficiency.
Daily Recommended Intake
The recommended intake for men is 11 mg and 8 mg for women.