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Zinc

Zinc acts as a cofactor for over 100 enzymes and has structural, regulatory and catalytic roles (e.g., aminoacil-RNA-ligase, DNA and RNA polymerase, alkaline phospatase and superoxide dismutase). Moreover, it has an antioxidant function preventing lipidic peroxidation and consequently it can reduce free radical formation. It also plays an important role in the immune system regulation. With aging, zinc intake decreases due to an inadequate dietary absorption or to a dysfunction of the intestinal tract. This causes an increase in chronic diseases (Moccheggiani, 2007; Haase, 2006; Haase, 2009; Rondanelli, 2011).

As for iron, zinc fortifications strategies, for certain foods, need to deal with the possible changes of the products sensorial characteristics, ensuing from salt solubility. Frequently used fortifications are zinc oxides in liposomal form (Lipofoods' ZincNova®, Alesco's UltraZin®), zinc bisglycinate, zinc gluconate. Table 1.3.1.3 illustrates the effect of some other micronutrients on health.

Table 1.3.1.3 Minerals and Their Effects on Health.

Minerals

Health benefits

Sodium

Sodium ions are the major cation in the extracellular fluid; absorption of sodium in the small intestine plays an important role in the absorption of chloride, amino acids, glucose, and water; high salt intake is associated with increased risk of stroke, cardiovascular events, osteoporosis

Potassium

Contributes to normal functioning of nervous system and muscle and the maintenance normal blood pressure; it is involved in the regulation of potential membrane

Magnesium

Contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth, to normal energy metabolism and protein synthesis, to normal muscle function. Deficiency: muscle weakness, altered cardiac function, tetanic crisis, tiredness

Molybdenum

Is cofactor of enzymes and contributes to normal sulphur amino acid and purine and pyrimidine metabolism

Chloride

Chlorine ions are the major anions in the extra- ed intracellular; chloride contributes to normal digestion by production of hydrochloric acid

Fluoride

Contributes to tooth mineralisation

Iodine

Contribues to production of thyroid hormones and to normal cognitive function and nervous system

Manganese

Contribues to normal energy metabolism and to protection of cells from oxidative stress; it contributes to normal formation of connective tissue and bones

Copper

Contribues to protection of cells from oxidative stress and to normal formation of connective tissue; it contributes to the normal function of the immune and nervous system; it is necessary for formation of hemoglobin

 
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