Zinc might be one of the most important minerals for health. It boosts the immune system, is involved in healthy cell division and is a powerful anti-oxidant. Low zinc levels can cause infertility, low libido and accelerated aging.

An article published in July by the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, from the Institute of Food Technologists, calls zinc a “vital element” and links it to several important physiological processes. Here are a few of them:

Brain: It has been found that Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease patients have lower than recommended zinc levels in their blood. Zinc also behaved like an antidepressant in studies on rodents.

Cardiovascular System: Men and women suffering from hypertension process zinc differently, according to a 2007 study. Zinc is known to provide a role in the regulation of arterial blood pressure.

Endocrine System: Studies show a correlation between zinc deficiency in geriatric patients and reduced activity of the thymus gland and thymic hormones, decreased response to vaccinations, and reduced immunity, according to a 2009 report.

Insulin secretion: Zinc is important in the synthesis, storage, and secretion of insulin. Low levels of it have been shown to play a role in the development of diabetes and with associated conditions such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, and elevated levels of triglycerides, according to a 1998 study.

Liver: Patients suffering from liver disease showed a significant deficiency of zinc, according to a 1998 study.

Pneumonia: Zinc may shorten the duration of severe pneumonia and hospitalization times, according to a 2004 study.

Pregnancy: Even a mild zinc deficiency during pregnancy can cause increased maternal morbidity, abnormal taste sensation, prolonged gestation, inefficient labor, atonic bleeding, and an increased risk to fetuses, according to a 1993 study.

Wound health: Zinc contributes to the body’s ability to heal. Studies in 1993, 1995 and 1999 found zinc to be crucial to the healing of gastric ulcers especially at the early stages.

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