Zinc is a trace mineral in the human body, but nevertheless vital to human health and needed in the diet every day. Among the trace elements, zinc is second only to iron in abundance in the human body. The average person’s body has between 2 and 3 grams of zinc. All zinc in the body exists as a positively charged ion with the chemical symbol Zn++.
Although some zinc is found in all of the organs, tissues, and body fluids, most of it is concentrated in the cells of the liver, pancreas, kidneys, bone, and muscles. Other parts of the body, where zinc can also be found in significant amounts, include the eyes, prostate gland, sperm, skin, hair, and nails.
Zinc is essential for growth, development, and reproduction, as well as for a healthy immune system. It also plays a key role in metabolism. Primarily as an intracellular ion, zinc is the cofactor for more than 300 enzymes. But its vital role in the human body was not acknowledged until the mid-1960. Even though we now know a lot more about zinc than we did back then, there is much more information still to uncover about zinc’s contribution to many different areas of the body’s functioning.
While many foods are good sources of zinc, there are also multiple factors that can interfere with its absorption. As a result, even though severe zinc deficiency, in Americans, at least, is not common, milder forms of deficiency are still prevalent, particularly in certain segments of the population. The normal serum zinc level range is .66 to 1.10 mcg/mL.Low levels of zinc in the blood can lead to a whole host of serious health problems, some of which can be life-threatening. The reverse scenario, toxicity associated with too high serum levels of zinc, is rare, but when it does occur, there are serious health risks that occur with that condition, too.