Zinc is widely distributed in the body—in bones, teeth, hair, skin, liver, muscle, white blood cells, and testes. It is a component of more than 100 enzymes, including those involved in the formation of RNA (ribonucleic acid) and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). (See also Overview of Minerals.)
The level of zinc in the body depends on the amount of zinc consumed in the diet. Zinc is necessary for healthy skin, healing of wounds, and growth.
People rarely consume too much zinc. Usually, zinc excess results from consuming acidic foods or beverages packaged in a zinc-coated (galvanized) container. In certain industries, inhaling zinc oxide fumes can result in zinc excess.
People may have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Inhaling zinc oxide fumes can cause rapid breathing, sweating, fever, and a metallic taste in the mouth—a disorder called metal fume fever. Consuming too much zinc for a long time can reduce the absorption of copper, cause anemia, and impair the immune system.