Zinc Deficiency, Excess and Supplementation

Why do we need zinc?

Zinc is needed for many of the chemical reactions which are going on inside us all the time at micro-level. Zinc is also needed for:

  • Our immune systems to work well to fight off infection.
  • Healing of wounds.
  • Growing.
  • Building the proteins and molecules which are the basis of all our cells.
  • Taste, smell and good vision.

Where do we get zinc from?

Zinc is readily available in many foods including:

  • Red meat
  • Chicken and other poultry
  • Seafood, particularly oysters (which are loaded with zinc), crab and lobster
  • Nuts
  • Grains, beans, lentils and split peas
  • Spinach
  • Dairy products - milk, yoghurt, cheese
  • Fortified breakfast cereal.

What happens if we don't have enough, or too much of it?

Not having enough zinc can cause a whole host of physical symptoms, ranging from mild to life-threatening. Occasionally, people become ill from having too much zinc (zinc toxicity)

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Dr Mary Harding
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
29407 (v1)
Last Checked:
30 May 2017
Next Review:
26 June 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.