The final mineral in this series is zinc. Zinc plays many roles in the body as a component of over 100 enzymes – including insulin and SOD – but is best known for its roles in sexual maturation and function in both males and females.
Zinc is found in all tissues and organs but is concentrated in the prostate, liver, eye, pancreas, blood cells and the part of the brain associated with smell. A steady intake of this mineral is required as the body has no zinc storage system.
A zinc deficiency can occur during infancy, puberty, child-bearing years, use of oral contraceptives, pregnancy, periods of high stress (physical, mental, emotional), diabetes, alcoholism, or high copper levels. A deficiency can result in:
• delayed sexual maturation of both boys and girls
• some types of adolescent acne
• loss of taste and smell; loss of appetite
• enlarged prostate in older men
• delayed wound healing
• frequent colds and infections
• offensive body and breath odors
• white spots on fingernails
• hair loss
Health Canada’s daily RDA varies with age and gender: infants & young children 2-4mg; male teens & adults 11mg; female teens & adults 8mg; pregnancy 11 and breastfeeding 12. Good food sources include sardines, herring, beef liver, beef, lamb, egg yolks, dark poultry meat, grains, legumes, nuts and pumpkin seeds.
Zinc is available as a supplement, either as part of a multi vitamin/mineral or on its own. Typical strengths are 15 to 50 mg, as zinc sulfate, citrate or chelate. Caution – the higher doses should only be used for a short time while treating a known deficiency. Zinc and copper are antagonists so a high intake of one can cause a deficiency in the other. For this reason oysters and lobster, although high in zinc, are not a dependable source as they can also be quite high in copper.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.