When one speaks about Zinc, we remember a supplement or a medication. But Zinc is a mineral which helps in producing 300 enzymes helping in various body functions. Zinc was named by alchemist Paracelsus, who named it after German word "Zinke". Zinc is a diamagnetic metal with atomic number 30, bluish- white in color. It is the 24th most abundant metal found on Earth’s crust. It is hard and brittle and good conductor of electricity. It has low melting and boiling points. Zinc is also called as Spelter. Iran has the largest reserves of Zinc followed by USA, Canada, Australia, Mexico and Peru.
It is the most common mineral found in the body after iron. This mineral helps in normal reproduction, taste, smell, vision, accelerated ageing of skin, hair growth etc. It is an essential mineral used as a dietary supplement. Zinc helps human body in maintaining sufficient immune system, cell division, wound healing, normal growth and development during pregnancy, adolescence, to maintain stable state of the body, DNA synthesis, cellular metabolism, neurological function, reproduction etc. Some hundreds of enzymes depend on this to catalyze chemical reactions. It plays a vital role in structure of proteins and cell membrane. Recently Zinc has been found to play an important role in apoptosis which is nothing but a critical cellular regulatory process with implications for growth and development.
Around 2-4 grams of Zinc is found throughout the body. Most of the Zinc is found in brain, muscle, kidneys, bones and liver. But higher concentrations of Zinc are found in prostate and parts of the eyes. Examples of Zinc containing enzymes are carbonic anhydrase and carboxypeptidase which play a vital role in the process of regulating carbon dioxide and digestion of proteins.
The “World Health Organization” estimated that one-third of the world’s population is at risk due to inadequate intake of Zinc. Zinc deficiency in agriculture soils lead to crop failure and its quality. Although Zinc is essential for good health but excess Zinc can harm life.