Zinc is one of the most important trace elements in the body and is required for the formation of more than 80 known enzymes that work with red blood cells to remove carbon dioxide from tissues to lungs. It also helps synthesize DNA and RNA, promotes cell division, allows for hormone production, and is necessary for prostaglandin synthesis. It also treats burns, is required for the storage of insulin, promotes fetal growth, detoxifies alcohol, encourages normal growth and development, and is required for male fertility. Working with vitamins, it is necessary for vitamin A metabolism and distribution; it also has antioxidant properties.
Plant sources of Zinc include mushrooms, soybeans, sesame seeds, nuts, wholegrain products, wheat bran, wheat germ, and maple syrup. Animal sources include beef, chicken heart, lamb, pork, turkey, fish, herring, oysters, and eggs.
Deficiency in Zinc can cause a variety of problems such as the loss of taste and smell, slow growth in children, white spots on fingernails, poor hair growth, abnormal hair loss, acne, rashes, and delayed wound healing. Nervous disorders include depression, irritability, and mental illness. Sexual side effects include infertility in men, low sperm count, and under functioning sex glands.