Zinc is a trace metal found in organs, tissues, bones, fluids and cells. A study published by the Institute of Food Technologists, specified that Zinc is not only a vital element in various physiological processes but also acts as a drug in the prevention of many diseases. Conversely, consuming too much zinc can lead to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches in the short term, and can disrupt absorption of copper and iron in the long term.
The study summarized the known correlation between zinc and vital physiological processes:
Brain: The blood zinc level is less in patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (Brewer, and others 2010).In a rodent study, it was observed that zinc behaves like an antidepressant (Nowak and others, 2005).
Cardiovascular System: Zinc performs a noteworthy role in the regulation of arterial blood pressure. Males and females were reported to metabolize zinc differently when suffering from hypertension (Tubek, 2007).
Liver: Zinc deficiency in the liver occurs not only in those with liver cirrhosis, but also in less advanced alcoholic and nonalcoholic liver disease (Bode and others, 1998).
Pregnancy: A mild deficiency of zinc during a pregnancy can cause increased maternal morbidity, abnormal taste sensation, prolonged gestation, inefficient labor, atonic bleeding, and an increased risk to fetuses (Jameson, 1993).
Diabetes: Zinc is very important in the synthesis, storage, and secretion of insulin (Chausmer 1998). A low level of zinc has been shown to play a role in diabetics with associated disease conditions such as coronary artery disease and several related risk factors including hypertension, and elevated levels of triglycerides (Singh and others, 1998).
Endocrine System: Studies show a correlation between zinc deficiency in geriatric patients and reduced activity of the thymus gland and thymic hormones, decreased response to vaccinations, and reduced immunity (Haase and Rink, 2009).
Healing: Zinc deficiency has been linked with delayed wound healing, and has been found to be crucial to the healing of gastric ulcers especially at the early stage (Kennan and Morris, 1993; Andrews and Gallagher-Allred, 1999; Watanabe, 1995).
Pneumonia: Zinc may shorten the duration of severe pneumonia and time in the hospital (Brooks, 2004).
Zinc can be found in the following foods sources: