Zinc: The must-have mineral
Zinc is so essential to your health that experts struggle to neatly summarize what it does. A better question might be, what doesn’t it do? “Zinc is required by every cell, system, and organ in your body,” says Michael Hambidge, PhD, professor emeritus of pediatrics and nutrition at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “It’s just of outstanding importance,” he adds. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), zinc plays an indispensable role in cell metabolism, immune function, digestion, DNA expression, and wound healing. “It’s involved in nearly every biological process,” Hambidge says. “And because its functions are so diverse, symptoms of a deficiency are also diverse.”
The good news is that zinc is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth, and is found in many foods. But some people—especially those with gut disorders, or those who adhere to restrictive diets—may have cause for concern. Read on to find out how to identify a zinc deficiency, and how to prevent low zinc in the first place.