Zinc supports our body's natural defenses and is essential for healthy skin. It is needed for many hormones and a healthy reproductive system; hence it is widely used for prostate problems. Zinc is necessary for our sense of smell, taste and vision.
Zinc is a trace mineral that is found in virtually every cell in the body and is a component in over 200 enzymes. Enzymes are molecules involved in speeding up chemical reactions necessary for human bodily function. Zinc functions in more enzymatic reactions than any other mineral. Most enzymes are composed of a protein along with an essential mineral and possibly a vitamin. If an enzyme is lacking the essential mineral or vitamin, it cannot function properly. If zinc levels are low, it affects virtually every system of the body due to its central role in so many enzymes. In addition to its role in enzymes, zinc is required for proper action of many body hormones, including insulin, growth hormone, and sex hormones.
Adequate zinc levels are absolutely essential to good health. The beneficial effects of zinc are extensive given the fact that it is involved in so many enzyme and body functions. It is especially important to proper immune function, wound healing, sensory functions, sexual function, and skin health.
Although severe zinc deficiency is very rare in developed countries, it is believed that many individuals in the United States have marginal zinc deficiency, especially in the elderly population. The zinc deficiency can be caused by decreased intake and/or utilization. Dietary surveys indicate that average zinc intakes range from only 47% to 67% of the RDA. Marginal zinc deficiency may be reflected by an increased susceptibility to infection, poor wound healing, a decreased sense of taste or smell, and a number of minor skin disorders including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Some other physical findings that often correlate with low zinc status include: decreased ability to see at night or with poor lighting, growth retardation, testicular atrophy, mouth ulcers, a white coating on the tongue, and marked halitosis.