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Zinc is one of the most important trace elements, playing a vital role in many body processes including genetic communication and protection of the immune system. White spots on the fingernails and certain skin conditions suggest a zinc deficiency.

What are the functions of Zinc?

Zinc is:

What are the signs and symptoms of a zinc deficiency?

Some of the signs and symptoms of a zinc deficiency include:

Food sources of zinc

The following are good sources of zinc: offal meat, mushrooms, seeds, nuts, oysters, eggs, wholegrain products and brewer's yeast.

Therapeutic uses

Zinc is used in the following conditions:


Take with a good multivitamin and mineral supplement daily, 15 to 30 mg is useful. Increase copper, iron and selenium if taking more zinc than that level.

Special notes

Zinc is considered to be non-toxic, although very high doses may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Women who are pregnant or breast feeding will have increased zinc requirements.

Chronic illness, surgery and infections require extra zinc in order for healing to take place.

Zinc deficiencies may be high in those taking the contraceptive pill or taking iron or folic acid supplements.

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Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Crawford, M. 1999, Minding Our Minerals. Healthy & Natural Journal.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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Try to avoid drinking tea or coffee in the same meal as zinc rich foods or supplements, since they can inhibit the zinc's metabolism.