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Zinc is mineral that your body needs in trace amounts for a variety of different mechanisms.

Functions of  Zinc 

Supports a healthy nervous system and is therefore essential for mental and emotional balance.
Helps strengthen your immune system, which increases your capacity to deal with stress.
Helps keep your teeth and bones strong.
Helps control your blood sugar level.
Is involved in numerous chemical reactions that convert food into energy.
Helps to protect your body against free radical damage.
Helps to reduce your blood level of homocysteine, decreasing your risk of a variety of chronic, degenerative health conditions.

Here are some healthy, whole food sources of zinc:

Whole Food Sources             Serving                Zinc (mg)
Organic Beef                            3 ounces                     5.80
Beef Liver, cooked                 100 grams                     5.24
Lima Beans                                1 cup                         3.60
Wild Turkey, cooked                   3 ounces                  3.50
Chickpeas                                   1 cup                        2.60
Split Peas, cooked                      1 cup                        1.96
Cashews, raw                             1 ounce                    1.60
Pecans, raw                                1 ounce                    1.28
Green peas, cooked                    1 cup                        1.08
Almonds, raw                               1 ounce                    1.00
Organic egg, poached                 1 large                      0.55
Ginger root, raw                           1 teaspoon               0.34

Signs of Deficiency
Poor sense of taste and smell
Poor appetite
Emotional and behavioural disturbances
Poor wound healing
Skin rashes
Chronic and severe diarrhea
White marks/lines across nails
Signs of Deficiency in Children
Poor growth
Delayed sexual maturation

People Who Have Higher Than Average Risk of Developing a Zinc Deficiency*
Infants and children
Pregnant and lactating (breastfeeding) women, especially teenagers
Patients who are receiving their food intravenously
Malnourished individuals, including those with anorexia nervosa
Individuals with severe or persistent diarrhea
Individuals with malabsorption syndromes, including sprue and short bowel syndrome
Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
Individuals with alcohol-induced liver disease
Individuals with sickle cell anemia

Adults who are 65 years and older Strict vegetarians - if you eat a lot of grains and legumes that are high in phytic acid, you have a greater than average daily requirement for zinc, as phytic acid is known to decrease the absorption of zinc into the blood stream.

Eating too many grains, spinach, and rhubarb can increase your risk of developing a zinc deficiency. Alcohol, sugar, stress, inadequate protein intake, and taking high doses of calcium in supplement form can also lead to a zinc deficiency.

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Zinc - 1998

Life Stage                                   Age                                               Males (mg/day)                                                   Females (mg/day)
Infants                                   0-6 months                                              2                                                                           2
Infants                                   7-12 months                                            3                                                                           3
Children                                1-3 years                                                 3                                                                           3
Children                                4-8 years                                                 5                                                                           5
Children                                9-13 years                                               8                                                                           8
Adolescents                        14-18 years                                             11                                                                          9
Adults                                  19-years and older                                  11                                                                          8
Pregnancy                           18 years and younger all ages                 -                                                                         12  
Pregnancy                           19 years and older  all ages                  
  -                                                                         11
Breastfeeding                      19 years and older                                 
  -                                                                         12

Read More at Wikipedia

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