Essentiality of zinc for humans and its deficiency was recognized in 1963. During the past 50 years, it has become apparent that deficiency of zinc in humans is widely prevalent. Nutritional deficiency of zinc may affect nearly 2 billion subjects in the developing world. Consumption of cereal proteins high in phytate decreases the bio-availability of zinc. Conditioned deficiency of zinc is also very common. Growth retardation, hypogonadism in males, rough skin, impaired immunity, neuro-sensory disorder and cognitive impairment are some of the major clinical manifestations of zinc deficiency. Zinc is involved in many biochemical functions and nearly 2000 transcription factors require zinc for gene expression. Zinc is also an effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. In therapeutic dosages, zinc has been used for the treatment of acute diarrhea decreasing mortality in millions of affected infants and children, common cold, Wilson's disease, sickle cell disease and for the prevention of blindness in patients with age related macular degeneration.
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