Zinc is a mineral found in every cell in the body and required for the activity of more than 300 enzymes. Mild zinc deficiency is difficult to detect because of the lack of definitive indicators of zinc status. However, it can result in recurrent infections due to impaired immune function. In athletes, zinc deficiency can lead to anorexia, significant loss in bodyweight, latent fatigue with decreased endurance and a risk of osteoporosis.
Food sources of zinc include:
Benefits of supplementation
Adequate zinc intake is required for optimal immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.
A daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no zinc storage system. Recommended intakes vary according to age and gender; the amount needed for adults is about 5.5-9.5mg a day for men and 4-7mg a day for women.
It is recommended that eating a nutrient-dense diet containing some foods rich in zinc is sufficient for the majority of individuals to meet their daily requirements. Dietary supplementation should only be used under the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist in specific situation. Do not take more than 25mg of zinc supplements a day, unless advised to by a doctor.