Many important life activities require enough zinc in human tissues and organs. Zinc is essential for proper vision, taste and smell and for wound healing. The deficiency of this micronutrient during pregnancy may cause serious malformations of the fetus, eg of the eye and the spinal cord, and affect the reproduction of women. The lack of zinc in the body causes labyrinth disorders – an organ responsible for maintaining balance, deafness, neurological disorders and osteomalacia. Its deficiency in the body may be the cause of anemia and various types of inflammatory changes of skin coexisting with excessive keratinization of the epidermis.
A causal relationship between zinc deficiency and serious mental illness such as schizophrenia is possible. In people with this disorder, the level of zinc in the blood is low and its concentration in the brain is half of the amount observed in healthy people
Zinc deficiencies among people were described for the first time at the turn of the fifties and sixties among the inhabitants of Iran and Egypt.The reason was the insufficient content of zinc in the diet and the large loss of this microelement with sweat. The lack of zinc in the body was manifested by growth inhibition, anemia, skin changes, cachexia and enlargement of the liver and spleen. The relationship between zinc and vitamin A has long been known. The symptoms of avitaminosis A are identical to those that occur in the absence of zinc in the body. Vitamin A is essential for regeneration of the epidermis, vision at dusk and for proper functioning of immune mechanisms.
The daily requirement for zinc is 15 mg per day and increases by 5 mg in adolescent children, pregnant women and breastfeeding. As in the case of iron, it is important to remember about the relatively small absorption of zinc in the gastrointestinal tract. A healthy person absorbs about 15% of the zinc present in foods and this amount, depending on the degree of deficiency in the body may increase, but only up to 45%. Absorption of zinc impairs alcohol, calcium and phosphates.
Most of the zinc is found in marine products (fish, oysters, squid) pumpkin and sunflower seeds, wheat bran, onions, garlic, liver and tea and drinking water. As a source of zinc, some fungi species (kite, mushroom, slug), peas, beans, lentils, wheat germ and yeast are also recommended.
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