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Zinc is an essential mineral required for healthy skin, cell growth, sexual development, fertility, night vision, and our sense of taste and smell. It helps the lymphatic system and liver eliminate waste properly and boosts oxygenation. Zinc is present in insulin and helps balance blood sugar levels.
Zinc is essential to wound healing and therefore is easily depleted in the body after any surgical procedure or major injury. Women on birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy or are pregnant or lactating may experience symptoms of zinc deficiency. People consuming large amounts of alcohol may also be at risk of lowered zinc levels.
Zinc plays a crucial role in growth and cell division where it is required for fetus development. Zinc is essential to DNA synthesis, insulin activity, function of the ovaries and testes, and in liver function. As a component of many enzymes, zinc is involved in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and energy.
Zinc is required by the body for maintaining a sense of smell. It is necessary for a healthy immune system, and is also of use in fighting skin problems such as acne, boils and sore throats. Zinc is essential to the growth and maintenance of muscles, hair, nails and skin. Zinc also helps the cells in your body communicate by functioning as a neurotransmitter.
Zinc is not only needed to manufacture testosterone, but it is vital to preventing the conversion of testosterone into excess estrogen. While zinc deficiency is is an obvious negative outcome for men (and may be a contributing factor for the boom in medications like Viagra), women are just as affected by excess estrogen and/or loss of testosterone. Men with zinc shortage may have a problem with fertility, while women may experience irregular periods. Children with too little zinc may have stunted growth and slow sexual maturity.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency can include hair loss, diarrhea, fatigue, delayed wound healing, and decreased growth rate and mental development in infants. A deficiency may also result in an under-performing immune system, open to infections and allergies. Other symptoms include night blindness, loss of smell, falling hair, white spots under finger nails, skin problems and sleep disturbances.
There is a shortage of zinc in many people’s diet, since zinc is destroyed in the milling process and is also lost in cooking.
Foods high in zinc: Pumpkin seeds provide one of the most concentrated vegetarian food sources of zinc. Other sources: sesame seeds, lentils, chick peas, cashews, quinoa, crimini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, cacao, red cabbage, asparagus, chard, maple syrup, green peas, oats, beet green and sea vegetables.