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 illustrates the effect of some other micronutrients on health.

Table Minerals and Their Effects on Health.


Health benefits


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


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


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


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


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


Contributes to tooth mineralisation


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


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


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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