All about Zinc

Zinc is a fantastic mineral involved in almost every process, if not all, the process in your body, from hormonal production and immune system to DNA synthesis and cell division.

The body doesn’t have a way to make or store Zinc, and you need to get enough in your diet each day.

Let’s get started!

Zinc and health

Here are some of the most critical functions of Zinc!

  • Immune system: The body requires zinc to develop and activate T-lymphocytes (your body’s guards against antigens). Zinc could reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms. Deficiency depresses the immune function.
  • Wound healing: Zinc helps maintain the integrity of skin, repairing cell membranes, tissue generation and scar formation. That is also why it is fantastic for acne treatments helping reduce the scares.
  • Fertility: Zinc nourishes ovarian follicles to promote healthy ovulation. Zinc deficiency is a risk for sperm dysfunction and male fertility.
  • Period Health: zinc is crucial for a healthy period since it is essential for synthesis, transport and action of all hormones. Deficiency plays a role in irregular periods, PMS and period problems in general.
  • Thyroid: Zinc helps the body maintain proper thyroid function by producing hormones in the brain called thyroid-releasing hormones.

Some signs of Zinc deficiency:

  • The earliest sign of deficiency is often patches of dry skin that with the time can become acne.
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Impaired immune function
  • Diminished taste or smell
  • Poor vision, night blindness
  • White spots on fingernails
  • In more severe cases, zinc deficiency causes hair loss, diarrhoea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, and skin lesions. 

Some of the causes of Zinc deficiency:

Medications, foods and health conditions can decrease Zinc absorption. Also, your diet plays a role in the amount of Zinc you get from food.

Medications: 

  •  Hormonal birth control, one of the thousand side effects of taking the pill is Zinc deficiency.
  • Antibiotics ( Cipro®, Achromycin® and Sumycin®) inhibit Zinc’s absorption, but taking it at least 2 hours before or 4–6 hours after taking a zinc supplement minimises this problem).
  • High doses of Iron Supplements can interfere with zinc absorption so take iron supplements between meals.

 Heath conditions:

  • Digestive disorders (such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and short bowel syndrome) can decrease zinc absorption.
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Gastrointestinal surgery
  • Depression and anorexia (early research suggests that zinc levels are lower in people with depression and anorexia nervosa)
  • Pregnant and Lactating Women (there is a high amount of zinc lost through breast milk after birth and developing a human being requires a lot of Zinc)

Diet and lifestyle: 

  • Vegan and vegetarian diets are low in Zinc. Also, vegetarians and vegans typically eat high levels of legumes and whole grains, containing phytates that bind zinc and inhibit absorption. (for more on antinutrients).
  • 30%–50% of alcoholics have low zinc status because ethanol consumption decreases intestinal absorption of zinc and increases urinary zinc excretion.

Where can you find Zinc?

  • Oysters: 74mg per serving !!!
  • Beef: 7mg in 3oz
  • Crab: 6.5mgin 3oz
  • Baked beans: 5.8mg per cup
  • Lentils: 3mg per cup
  • Breakfast cereal, fortified: 2.8mg per serving (varies by cereal type)
  • Chicken, dark meat: 2.4mg in 3oz
  • Pumpkin seeds: 2.2mg in 1 oz
  • Black beans: 2mg per cup
  • Yoghurt: 1.7mg in 8oz
  • Cashews: 1.6mg in 1oz
  • Cheese, Swiss: 1.2mg in 1oz
  • Oatmeal, instant: 1.1mg in 1 packet

So how much Zinc do we need? Men need 11mg of Zinc per day, and women require 8mg. (Pregnant and Lactating Women may need more) But if you eat oysters very often nothing to worry about at all!

What about supplements?

Mild zinc deficiency is not rare, and if you don’t get enough Zinc from your diet or have a medical condition, you may benefit from taking a supplement.

Zinc is better when you take it along with copper. So even though copper deficiency is rare, it can result from high levels of zinc intake.
The best way to take it is without food but, this can cause nausea. If zinc supplements cause stomach upset, then take them with a meal.

Resources:

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010824/

https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/high-zinc-foods.php

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