Role of Zinc in human health.

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Role of Zinc in human health.

Role of Zinc in human health.

Role of Zinc in human health.

Although the essentiality of zinc for plants and animals has been known for many decades, the essentiality of zinc for humans was recognized only 40 years ago in the Middle East. The zinc-deficient patients had severe immune dysfunctions, inasmuch as they died of intercurrent infections by the time they were 25 years of age.

During the past 40 years, however, it has become apparent that deficiency of zinc in humans is quite prevalent and may affect over two billion subjects in the developing world.

A severe deficiency of zinc has been reported to occur in patients with acrodermatitis enteropathica (a genetic disorder), following total parenteral nutrition (TPN) without zinc, following excessive use of alcohol, and following penicillamine therapy. The manifestations of severe zinc deficiency in humans include bullous pustular dermatitis, alopecia, diarrhea, emotional disorder, weight loss, intercurrent infections due to cell-mediated immune dysfunctions, hypogonadism in males, neurosensory disorders, and problems with healing of ulcers. If this condition is unrecognized and untreated, it becomes fatal.

Nutritional deficiency of zinc in the developing countries is caused by ingestion of high cereal protein intake, rich in phytate (an organic phosphate compound), which makes zinc unavailable for absorption. Other causes of zinc deficiency include malabsorption syndrome, hyperzincuria as seen in cirrhosis of the liver and sickle cell disease, blood loss due to hookworm infection, and excessive sweating in hot tropical climates.

A balanced diet will be enough to supply daily requiremet of Zinc which is 15 mg of elemental Zinc. Most people will not need any supplemental Zinc.

Food rich in Zinc includes Whole grains and milk products are good sources of zinc. Many ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are fortified with zinc. Oysters, red meat, and poultry are excellent sources of zinc. Baked beans, chickpeas, and nuts (such as cashews and almonds) also contain zinc.

Dr.Rakesh Rai. MS, FRCS, MD, ASTS Fellowship.