Zinc sounds like the name of a superhero or a robot from outer space. But in reality, it’s an essential mineral that we humans need to survive. It might not be as glamorous as Superman or R2-D2, but zinc plays some pretty important roles in our bodies. In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of zinc – what it does, where you can find it, and why it matters.
What is Zinc?
Before we dive into how zinc works in the body, let’s talk about what it actually is. Zinc is a chemical element with the symbol Zn (yes, really). It has an atomic number of 30 and is classified as a transition metal on the periodic table – which makes sense since it helps us transition between different bodily functions.
Zinc has some interesting properties that make it useful for all sorts of things beyond just human biology. For one thing, it’s highly reactive with other elements – meaning if you put zinc near something else on the periodic table (like copper), they’ll bond together easily to form something new. This property is why we use zinc in galvanizing steel to prevent rust – because when zinc bonds with iron (or steel), its reactivity protects against oxidation.
But enough chemistry lessons – let’s get back to how zinc affects you!
Why do We Need Zinc?
As far as minerals go,zinc might seem unassuming compared to iron or calcium (yawn). But don’t get too bored yet! Zinc actually performs several key functions throughout your body:
Immune System Support
Ever wonder why people say eating chicken noodle soup will help cure your cold? Well, they’re not completely off-base! Chicken contains zinc, and research suggests that getting enough zinc can boost your immune system by increasing white blood cell production . In fact, zinc deficiency can actually suppress the immune system and make you more susceptible to infections .
When you get a cut or scrape, your body launches into action to heal itself. Part of that process involves skin cells dividing rapidly to close up the wound. And guess what mineral those skin cells need in order to do their job? You guessed it – zinc! That’s because zinc is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division, both of which are crucial for repairing tissue damage.
Growth and Development
Zinc plays an important role in supporting growth and development throughout childhood. It helps with everything from bone formation to brain function . In fact, studies have shown that children who don’t get enough zinc in their diets may suffer from stunted growth as well as cognitive impairments later on .
Have you ever had a cold where all your food tasted bland or metallic? That’s because some viral infections (like the common cold) can cause temporary loss of taste sensitivity. But did you know there might be a link between this loss of taste and zinc deficiency? Research suggests that our ability to perceive tastes (especially sweet flavors) is impacted by how much zinc we have in our bodies .
Where Can We Find Zinc?
So now we know why we need zinc – but where can we get it? Luckily,zinc is found naturally in many foods:
- Meat: Beef, chicken, pork
- Seafood:(Oysters are especially high), crab,salmon.
- Beans: chickpeas,lentils.
- Nuts & seeds like cashews,pumpkin Seeds etc
There are also plenty of fortified cereals,multi vitamins,and supplements available if none item above suites us
How Much Zinc do we Need?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc varies depending on age and gender. According to the National Institutes of Health, the following amounts are suggested:
- Infants (0-6 months): 2 mg/day
- Infants (7-12 months): 3 mg/day
- Children (1-8 years): 3 -5mg/day
- Males (>19 years old): typically need about 11mg per day.
-Females(>19years ):typically needs around 8mg daily
It’s important to note that too much zinc can also be harmful. The upper intake limit is set at 40 mg per day, and going over this amount can cause symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
What Happens if we Don’t Get Enough Zinc?
So what happens if you’re not getting enough zinc? As noted above,zinc plays multiple roles in several processes throughout body . So it makes sense that a deficiency could result in numerous negative health effects:
Reduced Immunity & Increased Infection Risk
As mentioned earlier, low levels of zinc have been linked to decreased immune function – which means you may be more likely to get sick with colds or other infections .
Since ZINC aids growth during childhood, not getting enough could lead to stunted development as well as lower bone density later on . Stunting refers when there is interference with growth before children achieve their potential height.
Hair Loss/ Dry hair&skin
Several studies conducted among patients showed hair loss due to lack of adequate ZINC supplementation / deficiency.Other skin related issues like dryness might occur amongst those experiencing defiiency.Therefore sufficient availability of ZINC would prevent such undue occurance.
Impaired Taste Perception
Remember how our ability to taste is impacted by zinc levels? If you’re not getting enough, you might experience a loss of taste sensitivity for certain flavors (especially sweet ones).
Zinc may not be the most glamorous mineral on the block, but it’s still essential to our health in many ways. Whether we’re fighting off illness or trying to grow strong and healthy bones and brains , zinc plays an important role in helping us stay that way . So next time you’re enjoying a tasty meal (maybe one with oysters or chickpeas?), take a moment to appreciate all that little Zn working behind the scenes!
Hey there, I’m Dane Raynor, and I’m all about sharing fascinating knowledge, news, and hot topics. I’m passionate about learning and have a knack for simplifying complex ideas. Let’s explore together!
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