By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
What is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential mineral (needed by the body to work properly) that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement.
Which foods provide us with Zinc?
Good sources of zinc are dairy products, eggs, poultry, red meat, chickpeas, legumes, brazil nuts, seeds, crab, lobster, oysters, mushrooms.
Why is it needed by the body?
- To breakdown carbohydrates, fats and proteins
- In cell division
- Proper immune system function
- Thyroid function
- Growth and repair- especially in growth of the foetus
- In the manufacture of DNA and RNA
- Wound healing
- Sexual maturation and fertility
- Needed for storage of insulin
Why is it needed by the body in relation to fertility?
Zinc is needed to maintain normal levels of the male sex hormone testosterone in the blood and to convert it into the female sex hormone oestrogen. Zinc is also critical in prostate function, sperm formation and sperm motility. As zinc is needed in cell division it plays an important role in foetal development. In women it is needed to ensure correct egg formation, regulate hormones and maintain follicular fluid.
What can cause a deficiency of zinc?
Mild deficiency is very common and may cause a number of issues including acne, male infertility and low birthweight.
- Not consuming enough in the diet
- Digestive issues that affect absorption of nutrients
- Drinking too much alcohol
What are some of the symptoms of a deficiency?
Loss of taste, skin problems, poor wound healing, problems with growth in children, delayed sexual maturation, poor appetite, mouth ulcers, depression, irritability, white spots on fingernails.
Did you know?
Zinc is needed for more than 200 enzyme reactions in the body.
Mushrooms are a good source of natural zinc!