Zinc and its deficiency diseases.Clin Physiol Biochem 1986; 4(1):94-8CP
The pervasive role of zinc in the metabolic function of the body results from its function as a cofactor of a multitude of enzymes. Zinc is found in every tissue in the body, and because zinc metalloenzymes are found in every known class of enzymes, the metal has a function in every conceivable type of biochemical pathway. Symptoms resulting from zinc deficiency are as diverse as the enzymes with which the metal is associated. If chronic, severe, and untreated, zinc deficiency can be fatal. Less drastic symptoms include infections, hypogonadism, weight loss, emotional disturbance, dermatitis, alopecia, impaired taste acuity, night blindness, poor appetite, delayed wound healing, and elevated blood ammonia levels. Many symptoms of zinc deficiency result from poor diet consumption, but often the most severe symptoms result from other factors including excessive alcohol use, liver diseases, malabsorption syndromes, renal disease, enteral or parenteral alimentation, administration of sulfhydryl-containing drugs, and sickle cell disease. The most severe symptoms of zinc deficiency occur in young children affected with the autosomal-recessive trait, acrodermatitis enteropathica. This disease results in decreased synthesis of picolinic acid which causes an impaired ability to utilize zinc from common food. Because simple laboratory analyses are often not reliable in determining zinc nutriture of a patient, those symptoms caused by suspected zinc deficiency are best verified by the oral administration of zinc dipicolinate. This zinc compound is efficacious and safe and would provide an accurate means of identifying symptoms that do result from zinc deficiency.