Synonyms: Elemental zinc, Zn

Medical Specialties: Internal medicine

Clinical Definition

Zinc is a naturally occurring element and an essential nutrient in cellular metabolism, specifically for the immune system, the reproductive system and other neurological functions. 

In Our Own Words

Zinc is an essential trace mineral found in every cell in the body. Zinc supports the immune system and also helps the body produce proteins and genetic material. Zinc is particularly important during pregnancy and childhood development when the mineral helps build bones and muscles.   


Classified as an antioxidant because it helps protect cells from free radicals, it’s fairly easy to glean the daily recommended amounts by eating a variety of foods, including oysters, crab, lobster, red meat and poultry. There are also non-meat sources of zinc, such as fortified breakfast cereals, beans, nuts and whole grains. Zinc is also found in most multivitamins; adults require 8 to 11 milligrams per day. 

Relevant Conditions
Share this article
  • Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Zinc – toxicological profile. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov. Accessed July 2013.
  • Oregon State University. Linus Pauling Institute. Zinc. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu. Accessed July 2013.
  • NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc. http://ods.od.nih.gov. Accessed July 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. Supplements: Zinc 2012. http://umm.edu. Accessed July 2013.
Keep Reading

Investigate your bodys signs and signals.
Try Symptom Checker