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Monday, June 14, 2010

Food Sources & Medicinal Importance of Zinc

Food Sources of Zinc:
Natural food sources of zinc include beans, oysters, red meat and poultry nuts, whole grains, pumpkin seed or sunflower seeds. Herbs that contain zinc include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eye bright, fennel seed, hops, milk thistle, mullein, nettle, parsley, rose hips, sage, sarsaparilla, skullcap, and wild yam.

Deficiency of Zinc:
Low level of zinc can result in enlarged prostate, impaired sexual functions, dandruff, hair loss, poor sense of taste and smell, and stretch marks that commonly appear after extreme growth spurts such as in pregnancy and adolescence. In males, zinc is important for the production of semen. Up to 5 mg of zinc is lost during ejaculation. Deficiencies in zinc in males can lead to reduced sperm count and sex drive. Frequent ejaculations can lead to zinc deficiency.

Zinc is essential for the normal functioning of reproductive, neurological, dermatological and gastrointestinal systems. It is essential for normal, spermatogenesis, and normal embryonic development and for normal cell division and differentiation.

Function and Important Aspects of Zinc:
Zinc is also involved in nucleic acid degradation. The pancreas of the diabetic patients contains about one half of the normal amount of zinc. Zinc is also present in WBCs; in leukemia the WBCs have very low zinc content.

In post-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, urinary zinc excretion is increased and the zinc content of serum and liver is decreased; oral ZnSO4 has been found to improve liver function in this condition.

Abnormal metabolism of zinc has been claimed to result in a syndrome occurring in young males which is characterized by dwarfism, hypogonadism and anemia; this condition has been found in Iran and Egypt. Depressed immune response (due to malfunctioning of thymus, T cells and macrophages) and decreased smell and taste acuity are also seen.

Zinc deficiency is also seen secondary to acrodermatitis enteropathica (an autosomal recessive defect) and prolonged total parenteral nutrition. The normal serum zinc is level is about 100 ug/dL. Intestinal absorption of zinc is increased by amino acids and peptides and is decreased by fiber, phytate, phosphate, calcium and copper.

Zinc takes part in many enzymatic reactions such as those catalyzed by transferases, hydrolases, lyases, isomerases, ligases, oxidoreductases, transcription factors; specific examples include RNA polymerases, glucocorticoid receptors, uricase, carbonic anhydrase, lactate dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase and alcohol dehydrogenase.

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