Zinc: Essential health Role

Food source of zinc

Zinc | Role in body | sources | Deficiency | RDA or Dosage | Toxicity


Zinc is a trace mineral (a small amount of mineral that the body needs) even almost 100 enzymes need it to carry out vital chemical reactions. It is essential nutrients that the body can’t produce or store. It plays a key role in the creation of DNA, growth of cells, building proteins, healing damaged tissue, and supporting a healthy immune system. Therefore, zinc must be required during times of rapid growth, such as childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy. It is also involved with the sense of taste and smell.

Role of zinc in the body

  • Its plays a major role in metabolism: Zinc is necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes that help in metabolism, digestion, nerve function, and many other processes. [1]
  • Zinc support immunity: zinc supports the growth and normal functioning of immune cells such as lymphocytes, neutrophils, and macrophages that protect the body from viruses and bacteria. [2]
  • It is performed in wound healing: Adequate zinc is needed to create new cells, particularly collagen and fiber-like tissues, a necessary function in repairing damaged cells.[3]
  • Zinc plays an essential role in DNA synthesis: It aids in DNA synthesis, skin health, and protein production. Hence, it supports the synthesis of protein. [4]
  • It involves the sense of smell and taste: zinc works with particular enzymes that are crucial for proper taste and smell. Hence, it also plays a role in sense of smell and taste.[5]
  • Zinc takes place in the growth and development of the body: a trace amount of zinc is needed for cell growth and development of the body. Hence, it also plays a big role in the growth and development of the body. [6]

Food Sources

Zinc can effortlessly be fulfilled from some Planets and Animals products. Sources include:-

Plant sources of zinc

  • Nuts and seeds
    • Hemp seeds
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Cashew, etc
  • Legumes
    • Lentils
    • Black beans
    • Kidney beans
    • Chickpeas
  • Whole grains
    • Brown rice
    • Oats
    • Quinoa, etc
  • Vegetable
    • Kale
    • Mushroom
    • Peas
    • Asparagus
    • Beet greens

Animal sources of zinc

  • Fishes
    • Salmon
    • Flounder
    • Sardines
    • sole
  • Shellfish
    • Crab
    • Oysters
    • Mussels
    • Clams
    • Lobster
  • Meat
    • Lamb
    • Bison
    • Beef
    • Pork
  • Poultry
    • Chicken
    • Turkey

Deficiency of zinc

The deficiency is rare and Seen commonly in people with alcoholism, having digestive disorders, those with kidney disorders, excessive or prolonged diarrhea. These are the factor impacting the lower zinc observation that commonly resulted in zinc deficiency.

Common Sign of zinc deficiency

  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Poor appetite
  • Depressed mood
  • Decreased immunity
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss

Who is more at risk of zinc deficiency

  • Pregnant women are more at risk of zinc deficiency: Excessive zinc supplies for fetus growth and development even during lactation. Hence, pregnant women must increase the supplement of zinc during pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding children: Low amounts of zinc in human breast milk. High amounts of calcium and phosphorus in cow’s milk can lower zinc absorption. Hence, breastfeeding children are more at risk.
  • Vegetarians/vegans. Zinc intake is limited to plant foods like whole grains that have lower bioavailability than animal foods. Therefore, vegetarians must have proper care of zinc intake.
  • People have digestive disorders: Decreased absorption and increased loss of zinc through the urine.

Recommend dosage (RDA)

RDA ( Recommended Dietary Allowance ) for adults over 19 years is 11mg a day for men and 8 mg for women. While this RDA gets increased during pregnancy and lactation by 11mg and 12 mg, respectively.


The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health. The UL for zinc is 40 mg daily for all males and females ages 19+ years. Over than this UL for zinc creates certain health issues. Toxicity occurs almost exclusively from zinc supplements rather than food. There have been no reports of eating too much zinc from the diet alone. [7]

Toxicities include:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea 



Zastrow ML, Pecoraro VL. Designing hydrolytic zinc metalloenzymes. Biochemistry. 2014 Feb 18;53(6):957-78. doi: 10.1021/bi4016617. Epub 2014 Feb 7. PMID: 24506795; PMCID: PMC3985962. ( PubMed Central)
2. Zinc in Human Health: Effect of Zinc on Immune Cells. ( PubMed Central)
3. Ellinger S, Stehle P. Efficacy of vitamin supplementation in situations with wound healing disorders: results from clinical intervention studies. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. 2009 Nov 1;12(6):588-95.
4. Roohani, Nazanin et al. “Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review.” Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences vol. 18,2 (2013): 144-57.
5. Laurel Lyckholm, MD, Steven P. Heddinger, MD, […], and Robert I. Henkin, MD, PhD.
A Randomized, Placebo Controlled Trial of Oral Zinc for Chemotherapy-Related Taste and Smell Disorders [PubMed Central]
6. Enju Liu, Laura Pimpin, […], and Wafaie W. Fawzi. Effect of Zinc Supplementation on Growth Outcomes in Children under 5 Years of Age
7.Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc: a Report of the Panel on Micronutrients. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.  Accessed 10/17/2019.

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