Zinc is a silvery metal and is an essential trace element for humans and animals. Zinc is necessary for enzymes and cell growth. There is also evidence that it protects against the common cold.
The World Health Organization estimates that 800 000 deaths per year are attributable to zinc deficiency causing weight loss and poor wound healing.
Most zinc comes from our diet and breastfeeding helps babies and infants get their right nutrition. The UK NHS recommend adult men consume 11mg / day of zinc and 8mg / day for women. Meat and legume such as chickpeas and lentils are high in zinc.
Excess zinc can also be a problem. The NHS recommends limiting zinc intake from supplements to 25mg/day. High levels of zinc can block copper, another essential trace element, from the body.
Zinc has been known as a metal since ancient times. The ancient Greeks and Romans made brass, an alloy of zinc and copper. Alchemists where fascinated that when they burnt zinc in the air, it formed ‘philosophers’ wool’ in fibre-like white tuffs.
The Tara zinc mine in Navan, Ireland, is Europe’s largest, producing over 2.5 million tonnes of ore per year. Zinc has numerous commercial applications, one of which is to galvanise steel to make corrugated iron. The zinc protects the iron from rusting.
Zinc Oxide 72%, which is a cleaned by-product of industrial zinc processes, is the main source of zinc for animal feed, although zinc sulphate is also used.
Zinc protects us in many ways, one being that it’s found in sun cream. The US Food and Drug Administration lists only two ingredients as generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) – and one of these is zinc oxide.
Don’t leave home without it!