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Zinc is one of the many essential minerals that our bodies need to perform a myriad of important functions.

Our bodies cannot produce or store zinc, and so we need to provide all the zinc the body requires through a regular dietary intake.

We should receive all the zinc we need through a healthy and balanced diet. Unfortunately however, as with most essential vitamins and minerals, zinc is destroyed in many foods through modern intensive farming and food production techniques. For many there is also a general unavailability of zinc rich foods.

Vegetarians are especially at risk from zinc deficiency as meat is one of the best bio-available sources of zinc. Also at risk are pregnant and breast feeding women and people with gastro-intestinal problems, where the stomach is not properly extracting minerals from their food.

One of zincs most important roles is in the development and maintenance of a properly functioning immune system

Zinc and the immune system.

Zinc plays a very important part in the way our immune system produces and manages certain cells that fight off disease and repair damage to the body. If zinc intake is reduced even slightly below the levels the body needs then macrophage, natural killer and neutrophil immune cells have impaired function. Correct levels of zinc are also vital for the proper development and activation of T-Lymphocytes. When the bodies immune system is impaired in this way chronic disease can develop. There is also an increased risk of susceptibility to illnesses like influenza and pneumonia

As well as being essential for the immune system and wound healing zinc plays other equally important roles around the body. Zinc is essential for the proper synthesis of proteins and DNA as well as catalysing approximately 100 different enzymes. Zinc also ensures proper cell division, growth and development. Zinc is also needed for a proper sense of taste and smell.

Zinc: Recommended Daily Allowance*:

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0-6 months 2 2    
7-12 months 3 3    
1-3 years 3 3    
4-8 years 5 5    
9-13 years 8 8    
14-18 years 11 9 12 13
19+ years 11 8 11 12
*All measurements expressed in mg.