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The role of Zinc in the body

The role of Zinc in the body

Do you know what the function of zinc is in the body? This mineral is essential and of utmost importance for the body, so it must be provided in adequate quantities in the diet.

Because this nutrient has a specific role in more than 300 enzymes, it participates in all biochemical reactions in the human body. Therefore, zinc values ​​have a direct effect on growth, development, neurological behavior and the immune system.

What is the function of zinc?

Both zinc, copper and selenium are involved in processes necessary for the development of life. In fact, this element is present in all organs, tissues, fluids and secretions of the human body.

It has catalytic functions, increasing the speed of chemical reactions. Likewise, it fulfills structural and regulatory roles. According to the study Zinc: an essential trace element acts on brain function, where it exerts a modulating effect on neuronal communication.

It also maintains the integrity of the cell membrane and the balance of tissues. In bone, in particular, it is a constituent of the bone matrix, helping the formation of new osteoblasts.

It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and prevents cell damage. It is a regulatory agent in different mediators of immunity, as it intervenes in the activation, growth and functioning of immune cells. For all this, it promotes wound healing.

In the cardiovascular system it regulates blood pressure. Therefore, it acts on cardiorespiratory function and promotes strength in healthy people and athletes. In these cases, zinc supplementation also has positive effects for training.

It is essential, on the other hand, for the sense of taste to function, which stimulates the appetite. In the recovery of patients suffering from anorexia nervosa, zinc supplementation promotes weight gain and improves symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The functions of zinc in the body are varied, from regulating taste to maintaining blood pressure.

How much zinc is needed?

In general, 83% of the zinc we have in the body is found in the cells that make up muscles and bones. Because there is no specific site that serves as a reserve for this nutrient, there is no way to compensate for dietary deficiencies.

According to various studies, the daily amount needed depends on age. In the case of an adult, this value is between 8 and 11 milligrams per day for women and men, respectively. Likewise, there are stages such as pregnancy and lactation in which needs increase up to 13 milligrams daily.

Additionally, bottle-fed infants have a higher requirement, due to the lower bioavailability of this mineral in infant milk formulas.

What are the dietary sources?

Fortunately, this nutrient is widely distributed in different foods, but as with other elements, its content is variable. In this sense, the main dietary sources are the following:

  • Products of marine origin, especially seafood (oysters and crustaceans).
  • Meats, particularly organs and muscles of cattle, pigs, poultry and fish.
  • Dairy products and eggs.
  • Plant-based foods, such as whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • This mineral is bound to proteins and nucleic acids, so its bioavailability will be conditional on this. Thus, zinc from vegetables is absorbed less, due to the presence of phytic acid, a substance that forms insoluble complexes that make its intestinal absorption difficult.

What happens if you don't consume enough zinc?

Being a nutrient present in various dietary sources, deficiency is rare. However, this does not mean that it does not happen. According to data extracted from the National Institute of Health, its deficiency causes alterations in all those reactions in which it intervenes. It can have an impact in the following ways:

  • Decreased growth rate of babies and children.
  • Delayed sexual development in adolescents, as well as impotence in men.
  • Hair loss, eye and skin injuries.
  • Loss of appetite, diarrhea and decreased body weight.
  • Reduced sense of taste and concentration levels.
  • Depression of immune function.

Functions of zinc in the body

Zinc is obtained from food and its deficiency, although rare, attracts disorders of various kinds.

As you will see, this mineral has diverse actions in the body, so its contribution must be adequate at all stages of life. To ensure that you are covering your daily recommendation, it is advisable that you consult with a nutrition professional for better advice on the matter.

From the sense of taste to the activity of the immune system, the range of processes that depend on zinc levels is wide. A varied diet should be enough to cover these requirements.


"Because prevention is better than cure"

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