Recent clinical and experimental findings have reinforced the importance of zinc in human nutrition. Zinc plays a key role in the function of several enzymes like alcohol dehydrogenase, copper-zinc superoxide dismutase, carbonic anhydrase, alkaline phosphatase, ribonucleic acid polymerase and enzymes in the central nervous system. Zinc also participates in cell division, genetic expression, physiological processes like growth and development, genetic transcription, as well as programmed cell death, acting in the stabilization of biomembrane structures and cellular components. Furthermore, zinc affects the immune function and cognitive development. Effects of its deficiency include hypogonadism, oxidative damage, and alterations in the immune system, hypogeusia, neuropsychological impairment and dermatitis. In view of the abundant research on this mineral, this study had the objective of divulging more recent literature supporting the concept that zinc is essential in human nutrition.
zinc; nutrition; cell death; physiological process; health