Vital stuff, zinc.
Yes, really vital. It's the twenty-fourth commonest element on earth, and yet a lack of zinc is linked to the deaths of about 800,000 children every year.
Good grief. Just think it. Eight hundred thousand children.
And zinc's not even expensive. You'll find it in batteries, toothpaste, paint, anti-dandruff shampoo and brass. If you see something metal that has a dusty grey look about it then it's most probably galvanised, which means covered in zinc. This stops it rusting.
Zinc was used in ancient times, but in Europe it wasn't named until the 16th century, when Paracelsus (known here as Paracelsus the Bighead) came up with zincum or zinken.
And even then no one really knew what to do with it. P the B gave it to alchemists, who burned it to produce stuff they called philosophers' wool.
You'll find zinc in mineral pills, naturally: and, good heavens, how difficult would it be to hand out those at every third-world school?
Spot the frippet: zinc. This word was made up by Paracelsus the Bighead. It might be because the German Zinke means toothlike and zinc crystals look like needles, and it might be because zinc is quite like tin, and the German for tin is Zinn.
Eight hundred thousand children...