For those of us who have gone through recovering from chicken pox during our childhood days, we may remember that our parents gave us lacto calamine for treating the scars. Lacto calamine, a lotion containing zinc oxide and zinc carbonate, did help us in combating many skin ailments. The restorative property of zinc in cell development and replication as well as wound healing is well known and proven.
Zinc deficiency, in children less than five years increases the risk for diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria. Limited zinc rich food from natural resources and the considerable amount of zinc inhibitors like phytates found in plant based food sources attribute to zinc deficiency. If you are experiencing excessive hair loss, feeling less alert, and if your sense of taste and smell has decreased, you should get your zinc levels tested. Besides cell production and associated growth, sexual maturity and reproduction, zinc is also important for our immunity and to break down carbohydrates in the body. Because zinc is so closely related to growth pregnant and lactating mothers should ensure their zinc levels don’t drop. Infants and children need zinc during their growing years. Zinc deficiency may also lead to copper deficiency and associated risks. Consuming alcohol is one of the reasons why your body will not be able to digest zinc.
In India alone about 2.1 million youngsters have zinc deficiency. Almost 20-25% of the world’s adult population falls in the zinc deficiency category. This is a serious problem in developing countries.
Zinc deficiency is usually not identified through a regular blood test unlike other minerals. Blood plasma or urine or a strand of your hair is required to estimate the zinc levels in your body.
Sources of Zinc
Human body cannot store zinc and for this reason continuous dietary intake of zinc is required for growth. Natural sources of zinc include leavened whole grains, broccoli, beans, carrot, meat, fish, poultry and dairy, oysters, nuts like cashew and almonds, watermelon seeds, to mention a few. To avoid food poisoning, opt for cooked portions of these natural sources to the extent possible.
Artificial supplements of zinc contain penicillamine, zinc gluconate, zinc picolinate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate. Elderly people should take care while on zinc supplements, since artificial supplements are found to interfere with certain antibiotics, antiarthritis, and diuretic medications.
Many over the counter medications like nasal sprays, throat lozenges, cold medications, and lotions.
At least 6.8 mg of zinc is required per day for the human body. However, when consumption exceeds this on a regular basis, you will experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, flu like symptoms, and taste change.
Zinc and Children
The importance of zinc in the growth of children cannot be stressed enough. It is also true that poor attention span, impaired memory, and learning disabilities are also linked to zinc deficiency in children. So keep a bowl of tasty almonds and cashew handy and encourage your children to grab a handful every day.