What is Zinc?
Zinc is a mineral that is found in many human enzymes. Enzymes act as catalysts for various processes that take place within the body.
Zinc in the Diet
Zinc is found in animal products like shellfish, milk, cheese, chicken and turkey but also in plant foods like nuts and cereals.
The US estimated average requirement (EAR) is 9.4 mg/day for adult men, 6.8 mg/day for adult women, 9.5 mg/day for pregnant women and 10.4 mg/day for women who are breastfeeding. EFSA has set the average requirement for zinc as 7.5 mg/day for men and 5.5. mg/day for women.
Zinc and Your Eyes
Zinc contributes to normal metabolism of vitamin A. It also supports the structure of proteins and cell membranes, including those in the eye. Zinc also helps nerve cells to send signals to one another.
Zinc and Skin Health
Have you ever wondered why lifeguards walk around with white cream all over their noses? Or what could possibly be the magic ingredient is that keeps them from getting sunburnt? The answer is zinc. Zinc, like the other nutrients described here, is present in both the epidermis and dermis. Zinc’s role in the skin is to keep cell walls stable, activate certain enzymes and to help cells reproduce and divide properly.
To date, zinc has not been shown to be effective for skin protection when taken orally. But, when combined with oxygen to create zinc oxide, the white cream worn by lifeguards, it protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun by absorbing ultraviolet light across the whole spectrum (most other nutrients protect against UVA and/or UVB rays).1
1 Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University