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 the immune system to DNA synthesis and cell division. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t have a way to make or store Zinc, and you need to get enough in your diet daily.

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 skin integrity, repair 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 the 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 thyroid-releasing hormones in the brain.

Some signs of Zinc deficiency:

The earliest sign of deficiency is often patches of dry skin that, with 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?

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

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 unfortunately, in most cases can cause nausea. If this is you, then take it after or with a meal but avoid taking it with nuts, whole grains and legumes since these foods interfere with zinc absorption.

I hope this article was insightful! Did i forget something, or is there anything you would like to share? Let’s chat about it over social media.

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

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10801947/

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