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- is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes
- Can shorten the duration of a cold is a natural aromatase inhibitor (i.e. slows the conversion of testosterone into estrogen)
- supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence
- is required for proper sense of taste and smell
- is found in high amounts in oysters
Zinc deficiency is characterized by growth retardation, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function. In more severe cases, zinc deficiency causes hair loss, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, hypogonadism in males, and eye and skin lesions. Weight loss, delayed healing of wounds, taste abnormalities, and mental lethargy can also occur. Many of these symptoms are non-specific and often associated with other health conditions; therefore, a medical examination is necessary to ascertain whether a zinc deficiency is present.
A wide variety of foods contain zinc. Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food, but red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in the American diet. Other good food sources include beans, nuts, certain types of seafood (such as crab and lobster), whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products.
Information obtained from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/