The human body has approximately 2 to 3 g of Zinc, with the highest concentrations in the liver, pancreas, kidney, bone, and muscles.

According to the WHO, Zinc deficiency is one of the 10 major factors contributing to disease in developing countries.

Functions

Dietary Zinc causes an increase in bone mass. Zinc appears in the crystalline structure of bone, in bone enzymes, and at the zone of demarcation. It is needed for adequate osteoblastic activity, formation of bone enzymes such as alkaline phosphatase, and calcification. Beta­-alanyl-histidine (carnosine) is a zinc compound that stimulates bone formation intensively and restores bone loss from aging, skeletal unloading, aluminum bone toxicity, calcium and vitamin D deficiency, adjuvant arthritis, estrogen deficiency, diabetes, and fracture healing. Such new zinc compounds may become adjuvant therapy for osteoporosis and other disorders.

Food Sources and Intakes

Oysters are especially high in Zinc, and other shellfish, liver, whole­grain cereals, dry beans, and nuts are all good sources. Soy products may also be fairly good sources of zinc. In general, zinc intake correlates well with protein intake.

Deficiency

The clinical signs of Zinc deficiency were first described as short stature, hypogonadism, mild anemia, and low plasma zinc level.

Additional symptoms of Zinc deficiency include hypogeusia (decreased taste acuity), delayed wound healing, alopecia, and diverse forms of skin lesions. Acquired zinc deficiency may occur as the result of malabsorption, starvation, or increased losses via urinary, pancreatic, or other exocrine secretions.

DRIs
Infants and young children:     2­5 mg/day, depending on age
Older children and adolescents:    8-­11 mg/day, depending on age and gender
Adults:    8-­11 mg/day, depending on gender
Pregnant:   11-­13 mg/day, depending on age
Lactating:   12-­14 mg/day, depending on age