Zinc is a nutritionally essential mineral needed for catalytic, structural, and regulatory functions in the body.
The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for adult women and men is 8 mg a day and 11 mg a day of zinc, respectively.
Severe zinc deficiency is a rare, genetic or acquired condition. Dietary zinc deficiency, often called marginal zinc deficiency, is quite common in the developing world, affecting an estimated 2 billion people. Zinc deficiency can cause impaired growth and development in children, pregnancy complications, immune dysfunction, and increased susceptibility to infections. Long-term consumption of zinc in excess of the tolerable upper intake level of 40 mg a day for adults can result in copper deficiency.
Zinc bioavailability is relatively high in meat, eggs, and seafood. Zinc is less bioavailable from whole grains and legumes due to the inhibitory effects of phytic acid on absorption of the mineral.
Carotenoids are a class of more than 750 pigments synthesized by plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria. These richly colored molecules are the sources of the yellow, orange, and red colors of many plants. Fruit and vegetables provide most of the 40 to 50 carotenoid phytonutrients found in the human diet.
The most common carotenoids in North American diets are α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene.
Provitamin A carotenoids - α-carotene, β-carotene, and β-cryptoxanthin - can be converted by the body to retinol (vitamin A), but not lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene.
Dietary lutein and zeaxanthin help maintain optimal visual function - they absorb damaging blue light that enters the eye.
The results of observational studies suggest that diets high in carotenoid-rich fruit and vegetables are associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. But high-dose β-carotene supplements did not.