The essential role of zinc in human health was first suggested by our studies in growth-retarded Iranian villagers in 1961. Our later studies in 1963 established conclusively that zinc was essential for human and that zinc deficiency resulted in severe growth retardation, hypogonadism in males, immune dysfunctions, and cognitive function impairment. The suggestion that zinc was an essential element for humans remained very controversial, but in 1974, the USA National Academy of Sciences declared zinc as an essential element for humans and established the recommended dietary allowances. In 1978, the FDA and other regulatory agencies made it mandatory to include zinc in total parenteral nutrition fluids, which resulted in saving many lives. During the past five decades, tremendous progress has been made in the understanding of the biochemical role of zinc, and we now know that zinc therapy has impacted significantly on human health and diseases. In this review, I plan to present a brief historical review of the discovery of zinc as an essential element for humans, the clinical manifestations of zinc deficiency, its therapeutic impact on human health and diseases, biomarkers of human zinc deficiency, and its biochemical role.
Part of the book: Personalized Medicine, in Relation to Redox State, Diet and Lifestyle