Zinc is an essential mineral important for a huge number of biological processes. The mineral helps make new cells and enzymes as well as converting the fat, protein and carbohydrate from into a usable form. Zinc also plays a key role in the immune system, helping with the healing of wounds and fighting infection. Zinc has also been shown to be involved in sensory perception and the regulation of insulin.
The mineral zinc can be found in foods such as eggs, chicken, crab and dairy products. Brail nuts and soya beans are also good sources of zinc.
The European Commission daily requirement for zinc is 15mg for both men and women. In the UK, the RDA for zinc is 7mg for women and 9.5g for men. In the United States, the recommendations are 12mg for women and 15mg for men.
As well as a lack of zinc in the diet, a deficiency can be caused by anything that adversely affects absorption from the intestines such as alcohol abuse or illnesses such as HIV and diabetes.
Common zinc deficiency symptoms are poor appetite, a loss of the sense of taste, and general digestion problems. In some cases of zinc deficiency, hair loss, diarrhea and vomiting can occur. Zinc deficiency is children can restrict growth and delay the onset of puberty.
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