ZINC: WHAT IS IT?
Zinc is a trace element, i.e. a mineral present in the body in small quantities, amounting to approximately 2 grams in an adult individual.
Among the various forms of zinc, there is zinc gluconate: gluconate is a form consisting of zinc bound to gluconic acid, containing about 14% elemental zinc.
ZINC IN FOOD
The major dietary sources of zinc are animal products such as meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
The concentration of zinc in vegetables varies with the level of the mineral in the soil and is highest in wheat (germ and bran) and other starchy or oil seeds.
More specifically, the foodstuffs characterised by higher amounts of the metal are:
|Alimento||Quantità di zinco mg/ 100 g|
|Fresh brewer’s yeast||9,97|
|Bitter dark chocolate||9,63|
|Cooked leg of lamb||7,69|
The body is only able to absorb about 20-30% of the amount of zinc found in food; moreover, the zinc found in vegetables is in a less available and more difficult to absorb form.
THE RECOMMENDED DAILY INTAKE OF ZINC
According to the European Union, the recommended daily intake of zinc is 15 mg for men and 8-12 mg for women, but can increase to 19 mg per day during pregnancy and lactation.
THE ROLE OF ZINC
Within the human body, zinc has anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant and antioxidant properties and performs multiple functions:
- it is a component of hundreds of enzyme complexes involved in the metabolism of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids.
- it is necessary for the functioning of several hormones, such as thyroid, insulin, sex hormones and growth hormone
- it stabilises membranes and other cellular components, thus being essential for organ structure and integrity
- being essential for cell division, it is involved in growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence
Furthermore, Zinc is also involved in:
- DNA synthesis/Gene expression
- Immune response
- Wound healing
- Tissue repair
- Perception of taste and smell
A zinc deficiency is difficult to detect and rarely causes serious consequences. However, chronic deficiency of this nutrient can lead to
- Skin changes
- Hair loss
- Psychological problems
- Delay in sexual development and maturation
- Weight loss
- Impaired wound healing
- Impaired taste and sense of smell
- Vitamin A deficiency