Thursday, July 9, 2015

Why Is Zinc so Important?

Its importance to growth and development is often overlooked. However, zinc is crucial to your health, and a lack of it can lead to numerous harmful symptoms. Read on to discover the role zinc plays in the proper growth and functioning of the human body.

What is zinc?

Zinc is an essential trace metal that's vital to many of the body's biological functions. Zinc plays a crucial role in more than 300 enzymes in the body.

What does zinc do?

Zinc plays an important role in your organs, tissues, bones, fluids, and cells. Systems particularly affected by zinc include:

  • The immune system: Low levels of zinc lead to reduced and weakened T-cells. An increase in zinc can help fight pneumonia, diarrhea, infections, and colds.
  • Skin, hair, and nails: Zinc activates renewal of skin cells. Creams containing zinc are used for skin irritations, wounds, and acne.
  • The reproductive system: Zinc plays a crucial role in reproductive health for both men and women. A zinc deficiency can contribute to infertility.
  • The cardiovascular system:  Zinc is reportedly involved in the regulation of arterial blood pressure.
  • Overall growth and development: Zinc ensures proper growth of the fetus during pregnancy, and is essential in the growth and development processes of infants, children, and teens.
From what food sources can you get zinc?

According to the National Institutes of Health, sources of zinc include:

1. Red meat
2. Poultry
3. Lamb
4. Fish and seafood
5. Whole cereals
6. Daily products
7. Beans
8. Nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and cashews
9. Zinc supplements or a daily multivitamin (for those who don’t get enough zinc in their normal diet)

Want to view how much zinc is in the foods you eat? Check out this chart. 

Who is at risk of developing a zinc deficiency?

According to a study by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), nearly half of the world’s population is at risk for inadequate zinc intake. It’s especially concerning in the geriatric population as well as in undeveloped countries where food sources may not be zinc rich.

Low blood levels of zinc have been found in individuals with:

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Liver cirrhosis.
Delayed wound healing.
Diabetes-associated conditions such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, and elevated levels of triglycerides.

What are the signs of zinc deficiency?

Rough and dry skin
Dull hair
Brittle finger nails
White spots on nails
Reduced taste and smell
Loss of appetite
Mood swings
Frequent skin infections

How can you sneak more zinc into your family’s diet?

1. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or cashews as a topping on yogurt, ice cream, salads, or soups.
2. Include poultry and red meat in your family’s diet.
3. Choose breakfast cereals that are high in zinc.
4. If following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, check with your healthcare provider to see if a zinc supplement might be necessary.

By incorporating these easy ideas, you can rest assured that your family’s diet will be rich in a necessary mineral that keeps their bodies growing and functioning properly. Zinc may sometimes be overlooked, but that doesn't make it any less important to your health.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize

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