Zinc and Living Organisms
Zinc is considered an essential element, because all living organisms need zinc. Because the amount of zinc present in nature varies widely, living organisms have natural processes that regulate their uptake of zinc. Nevertheless, deficiency occurs when the amount of zinc available is insufficient to meet the needs of a given organism. However, toxicity can occur when an excessive amount of zinc is ingested.
Zinc is essential for human health. Adequate daily intake of zinc is vital for the proper functioning of the immune system, digestion, reproduction, taste, smell, and many other natural processes. Analysis of diet and nutritional needs have led researchers to estimate a staggering 49% of the world’s population is at risk from zinc deficiency.
Zinc is also used in a variety of medical and pharmaceutical products, such as bandages, cold lozenges, skin treatments, sun block creams and lotions, burn and wound treatments, baby creams, shampoo, and cosmetics.
For many food crops, zinc is an essential micronutrient. Zinc deficiency in agricultural soils is common on all continents and constitutes a major problem in many parts of the world because it causes serious inefficiencies in crop production. Relatively small amounts of zinc compounds, however, can cure deficiency and last for several years before they need to be repeated. This treatment is highly cost effective when the costs of the zinc application and the value of the extra yield are considered.
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