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Definition of «Zinc»


Zinc: A mineral essential to the body, zinc is a constituent of many enzymes that permit chemical reactions to proceed at normal rates. It is involved in the manufacture of protein (protein synthesis) and in cell division. Zinc is also a constituent of insulin, and is concerned with the sense of smell.

Food sources of zinc include meat, particularly liver and seafood; eggs; nuts; and cereal grains.

Deficiency of zinc is associated with short stature, anemia, increased pigmentation of skin (hyperpigmentation), enlarged liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly), impaired gonadal function (hypogonadism), impaired wound healing, and immune deficiency. (For a genetic disorder that impairs zinc uptake, please see Acrodermatitis enteropathica).

Too much zinc can cause gastrointestinal irritation (upset stomach), interfere with copper absorption and cause copper deficiency, and (like too little zinc) cause immune deficiency.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the Recommended Dietary Allowance of zinc is 12 milligrams per day for women and 10 milligrams per day for men.

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