From Joseph Mercola, DO
You may only think about it during the cold and flu season, but this essential mineral is needed throughout the year for healthy cell division, immune function, thyroid health, blood sugar balance, vision and much more. Learn the four signs that mean you may be deficient and the preferred way to raise your levels.
While you may think about it mainly during cold and flu season, zinc is an essential mineral found throughout your organs, tissues and bodily fluids. Moreover, after iron, zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in your body. Because zinc plays a vital role in many biological processes, you may be surprised to learn that your body does not store zinc. Instead, it has to be consumed daily, either through the foods you eat or a high-quality supplement.
Zinc supports critical processes within your body such as blood clotting, cell division, immune function, thyroid health, smell, taste, vision and wound healing. Good dietary sources of zinc include dairy products, nuts, red meat and seafood. Although plant sources such as asparagus, beans, green peas and spinach contain zinc, it is more easily absorbed from meat and animal proteins.
If you are an alcoholic or vegetarian, are pregnant or lactating, or have a digestive disorder or sickle cell disease, you are more likely to have a zinc deficiency. Even if you consider yourself to be a healthy person, you may not be eating enough zinc-rich foods on a daily basis to achieve optimal levels of this essential nutrient.