Zinc is an essential mineral for many areas of general health.
Found in cells throughout the body, it supports the immune system's ability to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
Zinc is involved in making proteins and DNA in the body, and is key in wound healing and our sense of taste and smell.
Vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk for inadequate zinc consumption, since the best foods sources of zinc include oysters, red meat, poultry, and seafood and certain compounds in plant foods prevent proper zinc absorption. According to the National Institutes of Health, "vegetarians might need to eat as much as 50% more zinc than the recommended amounts." Other groups at risk for deficiency include those with malabsorption conditions, infants that are exclusively breast-fed, alcoholics and those with sickle cell disease.