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vitamins And Minerals > > Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays many roles in healthy body functioning. It is essential to growth and development processes. Zinc helps manufacture proteins and genetic material, stimulates hair growth and aids in skeletal development. The mineral helps the development of taste perception, and it aids in the reproduction and lactation processes. Zinc is also important for normal immune functions, including prevention of cancer and infections. Recently, some researchers claim that small amounts of zinc supplements can help prevent colds, but there has been no hard evidence to support the claims as yet.

Zinc can be found mostly in animal products, but it can also be obtained from legumes, whole wheat grains and nuts. However, the mineral is best absorbed through meat, liver, eggs and seafood, particularly oysters.

The recommended daily allowance for zinc is 15 mg for men and 12 mg for women. Americans typically consume enough zinc in their diets, but vegetarians are at risk for deficiency because most zinc is obtained through animal products. Women who take calcium supplements absorb less zinc than those who do not, and zinc from non-animal sources is not as easily absorbed as is zinc from animal products.

Zinc deficiencies result in poor growth, loss of appetite, skin changes, and impaired immune functioning.

Excessive amounts of zinc in the system can be dangerous. More than 100 mg of zinc per day is considered a dangerous amount and can actually inhibit immune system functioning rather than help it. Too much zinc can cause anemia and a lowering of good cholesterol in the blood.

vitamins And Minerals > > Zinc