Zinc: biological information
Zinc is essential in the diets of plants and animals. Zinc shortage in soils around the world is an important problem. Zinc is the key component of many enzymes. The protein hormone insulin contains zinc.
Zinc plays a role in reproduction and also sexual maturation. Zinc deficiency resluts in stunted growth and in male sexual immaturity. This is reversed on the addition of zinc in the diet. Some organisms seem to accumulate zinc.
Levels in humans
- Human abundance by weight: 33000 ppb by weight
- Human abundance by atoms: 3200 atoms relative to C = 1000000
How much zinc is in your body? Find out here.
You can use this form to calculate how much zinc your body contains. Enter your weight in either kilograms or pounds and click the "Calculate" button. You must enter a number, not text! Elements for which there are no data will always give a value of zero for the weight, no matter what you put in the weight box.
Hazards and Risks
Hazards and risks associated with zinc:
Zinc metal is a human skin irritant and is a severe fire hazard but otherwise is non-toxic. Most common zinc compounds are not very toxic but a few zinc salts may be carcinogens. Use of some zinc compounds is permitted around food. Pollution from industrial smoke may cause lung disease.
- J.E. Huheey, E.A. Keiter, and R.L. Keiter in Inorganic Chemistry : Principles of Structure and Reactivity, 4th edition, HarperCollins, New York, USA, 1993.
- S. Budavari (Ed.) in The Merck Index, 11th ed., Merck, USA, 1989.
- N.N. Greenwood and A. Earnshaw in Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edition, Butterworth, UK, 1997.