Zinc

Zinc is a micronutrient.  Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that the body needs a small amount of to function such as copper, chromium, and zinc.   Zinc helps regulate one’s blood pressure as well as blood sugar, increases and steadies metabolic rate, increases the immune system (in particular strengthens white blood cells), aids in cell growth and maturity throughout the body and its systems, and increases the senses of taste and smell.

When the body absorbs zinc it must be ionized by hydrochloric acid.  This makes taking supplements of zinc less desirable because the body is bombarded by too many molecules at once and cannot ionize them all for absorption.  Zinc competes with other medals such as copper and cadmium for transportation throughout the body.  Only 15mg of zinc is needed per day, but caffeine, calcium, and phosphorus all interfere with the digestion and absorption of zinc.  Athletic activities often deplete the storage of zinc through sweat. Stress, infection, and alcohol have been linked to the excretion of zinc through urine.  In addition, there is an increasing amount of zinc deficiency within the soils throughout the world, which leads to less zinc within our food.

With the multiple difficulties that zinc has being absorbed into the body, as well as keeping it in the body, it makes sense why there is more and more zinc deficiency being found throughout the world, even in well developed countries.  The most notable sign of zinc deficiency is decreased taste and smell leading to poor appetite.  Other notable symptoms include depression, decreased growth in children (usually caused by decreased appetite), fatigue, poor digestions, and more frequent colds and infections.

So how do we eat more Zinc? 

Since Zinc supplements are not beneficial, eating zinc enriched foods is the best way to increase the amount of zinc within your body.  Be aware that zinc is water soluble, so if you cook these foods (mainly referring to the vegetables) in water, some zinc may be lost in the cooking process.  To receive the full benefit of zinc, it is best to eat the vegetables raw or lightly steamed.

World’s Healthiest Foods ranked as quality sources of zinc

Food

Serving
Size

Cals

Amount
(mg)

DV
(%)

Nutrient
Density

World’s
Healthiest
Foods Rating

Mushrooms – Crimini

1 cup

19.1

0.96

6.4

6.0

very good

Venison

4 oz-wt

216.6

9.80

65.3

5.4

very good

Spinach

1 cup cooked

41.4

1.37

9.1

4.0

very good

Mushrooms, Shiitake

87 g

29.6

0.90

6.0

3.7

very good

Beef

4 oz-wt

218.9

5.95

39.7

3.3

good

Asparagus

1 cup raw

26.8

0.72

4.8

3.2

good

Scallops

4 oz-wt

127.0

3.40

22.7

3.2

good

Lamb

4 oz-wt

229.1

4.60

30.7

2.4

good

Swiss Chard

1 cup cooked

35.0

0.58

3.9

2.0

good

Maple Syrup

2 tsp

34.8

0.55

3.7

1.9

good

Shrimp

4 oz-wt

112.3

1.77

11.8

1.9

good

Green Peas

1 cup raw

115.7

1.64

10.9

1.7

good

Yogurt

1 cup

154.3

2.18

14.5

1.7

good

Oats

1 cup cooked

166.1

2.34

15.6

1.7

good

Pumpkin Seeds

0.25 cup

180.3

2.52

16.8

1.7

good

Sesame Seeds

0.25 cup

206.3

2.79

18.6

1.6

good

Turkey

4 oz-wt

153.1

1.97

13.1

1.5

good

Miso

1 tbs

34.2

0.44

2.9

1.5

good

Chart Provided By WHfoods.com

Resources:

WebMD. “Vitamins and Supplements Lifestyle Guide: Zinc.” 2012. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-zinc

Wise Pharmacy. “Zinc Deficiancy- Asssessment and Treatment.”   September 2012.

World’s Healthiest Foods. “Zinc.” 2012. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=115

 

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