Zinc, a nutrient found throughout your body, helps your immune system and metabolism function. Zinc is also important to wound healing and your sense of taste and smell. With a varied diet, your body usually gets enough zinc. Zinc is a mineral. It is called an “essential trace element” because very small amounts of zinc are necessary for human health. Since the human body does not store excess zinc, it must be consumed regularly as part of the diet. Common dietary sources of zinc include red meat, poultry, and fish. Zinc deficiency can cause short stature, reduced ability to taste food, and the inability of testes and ovaries to function properly.