What does zinc do?
Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It helps the cells to grow and divide, and is necessary for the activity of enzymes, proteins and DNA. The body cannot make zinc so it must be obtained from food. It is mainly stored in the muscle and bone.
Zinc is important for many of the body’s functions.
Immune system: The body needs zinc to fight off infection. People who don’t have enough zinc in their body may be at greater risk of pneumonia and other infections. Children and the elderly are at greater risk.
Wound healing: Zinc supports the skin. If you don’t have enough zinc, it can lead to skin changes that initially look like eczema. Zinc supplements may be used to help people whose leg ulcers won’t heal.
The common cold: Zinc is sold in some products to help with the common cold. Research shows that taking zinc lozenges or syrup can make cold symptoms less severe and last for less time, especially if you take them in the first 24 hours.
Age-related macular degeneration: Some research has shown that zinc is important in preventing and slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
Taste and smell: Zinc is crucial for one of the enzymes needed to taste and smell.
Healthy people who don’t have enough zinc in their diet may experience hair loss, diarrhoea, impotence, eye and skin problems and loss of appetite.
Having enough zinc is especially important during pregnancy and for children to ensure they grow and develop properly.