Zinc is a type of metal that can naturally be found in your body as well as in various foods. It’s called a trace mineral because very small amounts are needed for your health. It’s still important to your health, though, because your immune system needs zinc to work properly. This mineral is also used in your body for cell growth, healing any scrapes or cuts and the breakdown of carbohydrates.
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It’s rare for people to have a zinc deficiency. The symptoms of zinc deficiency are stunted growth, loss of appetite, slow healing of any cuts or scrapes, more frequent colds, irritability, dry skin, loss of hair and problems with your sense of smell and taste. You can take zinc supplements to help those symptoms, or eat more foods that have natural amounts of zinc. A lot of meat products like beef, pork and lamb have lots of zinc in them, higher levels than fish. Vegetarians are more at risk for zinc deficiency because by cutting meat from their diet they’re losing a lot of food options that have natural amounts of zinc. They could always try nuts, whole grains, legumes and yeast that have some amounts of zinc in them.
Zinc is often used to treat other sicknesses, as well. Because zinc is used in your body to help your immune system, doctors use zinc to boost your immune system. It can also be used to treat the common cold, ear infections and preventing lower respiratory infections. (via National Institutes of Health)
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