What tasks the trace element fulfils and when we need a lot of it.
Zinc is an essential trace element. This means that our body cannot produce it itself. We must supply it regularly through food, because it is needed for numerous metabolic processes. Zinc is contained in about 50 enzymes, which are accelerators of chemical reactions in the body; about 300 others are involved in their function. As a cell-protecting antioxidant, it strengthens our immune system against allergies and infections. It is important for a balanced acid-base balance, important for growth and for skin, hair and nails. Messenger substances such as insulin and testosterone are only produced when there is a sufficient supply of zinc. Since zinc deficiency can lead to growth and developmental delays, sufficient supply is particularly important in childhood and adolescence. In addition, zinc plays an important role in cell division. This is one of the reasons for its positive effect on the skin, which has long been exploited through the use of zinc ointments. After injuries or operations, zinc is indispensable for wound healing so that the tissue grows back together quickly. It has an antiviral effect and at the same time improves the structure of the mucous membrane so that viruses cannot penetrate or attach themselves so easily. As a result, zinc can also shorten the duration of colds. Its anti-inflammatory property not only helps with numerous skin diseases such as acne, psoriasis and neurodermatitis, but also with inflammations of the stomach and intestinal mucosa. In cirrhosis of the liver and diabetes mellitus, there is often a zinc deficiency that should be compensated for. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, those with a weakened immune system and regular alcohol consumption also have an increased need. In addition, women who take oestrogen preparations should make sure that their zinc intake is sufficient. Physical overload and stress also increase our zinc requirement.
Causes of zinc deficiency
Zinc deficiency can result from either increased need, increased loss or decreased intake. While athletes lose a lot of zinc through sweat, we in senior age often do not consume enough zinc because we suffer from loss of appetite or have an unbalanced diet due to dental problems. As vegetarians and vegans, the absorption capacity of zinc in the small intestine is reduced because the plant-based diet absorbs a lot of phytic acid, which forms insoluble compounds with zinc. Inflammatory bowel diseases impair zinc absorption, as does impaired activity of the pancreas. Various drugs, for example diuretics, increase zinc excretion and promote a deficiency.
Since zinc fulfils many functions, this becomes noticeable in numerous places, for example through hair loss, cracked skin, white spots on the nails, a weak immune system as well as restrictions in sensory perception and performance. For prevention, zinc should therefore always be taken in sufficient quantities and together with substances that improve absorption. These include protein, citric acid and vitamin C, which complements the effects of zinc in the body and increases its effectiveness.
Zinc mineral profile - areas of application:
- Immune system: Zinc is crucial for the immune system, it protects against infections and allergies
- Growth: There is an increased need for zinc, especially during puberty, to support the ovaries and prostate
- Wound healing: Zinc helps to repair the skin and is therefore also used for skin diseases
- Procreation: Zinc deficiency can limit fertility in women and men and lead to unwanted childlessness
- Eye diseases: Vitamin A, the eye vitamin, can only be transported if there is a sufficient supply of zinc
- Liver diseases: As it is involved in many enzyme functions, the liver benefits from regular zinc intake
- Diabetes: Insulin action is directly dependent on zinc
Nutritional tip / Foods rich in zinc are best in organic quality!
- To nibble on: (unsalted) peanuts and Brazil nuts - sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- For breakfast: - Oatmeal - Egg yolk - Cheese (Emmental, Gouda, Parmesan)
- For a plant-based diet: - Lentils(better zinc absorption due to high protein content) - Corn
- From the sea: - Oysters - Prawns
- Best organic: - Calf's liver - Beef fillet