|Zinc is essential for protein synthesis and it contributes to muscle contraction
and striated muscle. It is a catalyst and regulates many enzymatic reactions,
for example, it influences thyroid function, along with selenium and iodine, as
well as influencing the defence of the immune system. Like an antioxidant, it
prevents the formation of free radicals and about 10-14% of the zinc we consume
is absorbed in the proximal intestine, according to the concentration in the blood.
Some zinc also passes into enterohepatic circulation and is then reabsorbed in
the small intestine. It is removed from the body via sweat, urine and faeces.|
|Beef, pork, lamb, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, egg, pumpkin seeds and mustard
are all rich in zinc. Foods of animal origin have a higher bioavailability of
zinc, compared to those of plant origin, because there are substances contained
in the latter (phytic acid, phosphate) that limit absorption.|
|The recommended intake of zinc is around 10mg/day for men and 7mg/day for women.
When nursing it is a good idea to increase your intake by 5mg/day so as to make
up for the zinc that is lost in breastfeeding.|
|Serious zinc deficiency can result in growth stunts, hepatomegaly and anaemia.
A particular genetic illness that causes malabsorption is called acrodermatitis
enteropathica and it is characterised by weight loss, alopecia, skin and mucous
lesions, delay in healing and a diminution in immune system defences. Premature
babies, AIDS sufferers, pregnant or nursing women and the elderly are particularly
susceptible to zinc deficiency. Zinc intoxication occurs after consuming more
than 150mg in a day and it causes nausea, vomiting, increased temperature and
reduced immune system response.|