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The role of zinc in life: a review.

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National Research Council, Institute of Agricultural Biology and Biotechnology (IBBA), Section of Pisa, Via Moruzzi 1, 56124, Pisa, Italy.


Zinc is a common element in human and natural environments and plays an important part in many biological processes. Zinc, which is defined as an essential trace element, or a micronutrient, is essential for the normal growth and the reproduction of all higher plants and animals, and of humans. In addition, it plays a key role during physiological growth and fulfills an immune function. It is vital for the functionality of more than 300 enzymes, for the stabilization of DNA, and for gene expression. This review summarizes the role and manifestations of zinc in the environment and its importance for human health and metabolism, as well as its physiological role. Toxicity, teratogenicity, carcinogenicity, and immunological functions of zinc are outlined with particular reference to the properties of zinc as an antioxidant, and its role in cancer prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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