Zinc is an important mineral found in every cell in the body. It is required for the proper functioning of thymic, sex, and growth hormones, as well as for insulin. Zinc also helps maintain normal taste and smell acuity and promotes healthy skin. Adequate intake of zinc is essential for good health.
Like all rapidly dividing cells, immune cells depend on adequate
amounts of dietary zinc.
As a cofactor of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase
(SOD), zinc can be considered an
antioxidant nutrient. Zinc supplementation has been shown to increase the antioxidant activity of SOD,
and provide increased free radical protection. Body cells and tissues are threatened continuously by
damage caused by toxic free radicals and reactive oxygen species (e.g., peroxides) which are produced
during normal oxygen metabolism, by other chemical reactions,and by toxic agents in the environment. Free radicals, once formed, are capable of disrupting metabolic activity and cell structure. When this occurs, additional free radicals are produced which, in turn, can result in more extensive damage to cells and tissues.
The uncontrolled production of free radicals is thought to be a major contributing factor to oxidative damage.
Zinc deficiency is associated with increased production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species.
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