Zinc is a powerful antioxidant that supports several important functions in the body. Antioxidants protect the body from cell damage and aging; as well it helps to regulate body inflammation and boost the immune system with an improved white blood count. Zinc helps to fight bacterial infections, viruses like the common cold and serious health conditions like cancer. It promotes wound healing and assists in cell and muscle growth and repair.
Through helping to regulate hormone and insulin levels which regulates blood sugar, zinc assists in fighting diabetes. Providing support to liver health by reducing infections, zinc can further be used as a cleanse to reduce inflammation. Maintaining healthy levels of zinc can eliminate prostate disorder and swelling of the prostate gland. Zinc also improves fertility in men as it helps to increases testosterone levels.
Zinc supports cognitive function and improves learning and memory. It sharpens the senses, especially taste and smell; and helps to reduce night-blindness. Zinc is required for normal growth and development in children; as well it supports strong bones in adults.
Zinc can help to ease the symptoms of arthritis and muscle cramps associated with liver disease. Used as an appetite suppressant, zinc can assist in weight loss. It can help to prevent diarrhea, as well aids in protein synthesis and in nutrient absorption and digestion.
Characteristics of a Zinc Deficiency
A zinc deficiency can be caused by maintaining a poor diet, however some serious chronic health conditions and surgeries can also affect the bodies ability to absorb nutrients.
Low levels of zinc can result in low immunity and slow wound healing, along with frequent infections and skin sores. Skin conditions such as acne and eczema can also worsen. A person may experience a loss of taste and smell, and have trouble seeing in the dark. People can also experience reduced concentration, poor memory and difficulty learning when zinc levels suffer.
A zinc deficiency during childhood can result in stunted growth development. Changes in appetite can occur with increased cravings for salty and sugary foods, which can affect weight gain. As well, digestive problems can increase along with diarrhea. Hormonal problems for both men and women are also largely affected.
Zinc Food Sources
Healthy whole food sources for zinc include animal proteins such as white meats and eggs. Nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and legumes are also equally excellent sources for this essential nutrient.
Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Zinc
This chart lists the best whole food sources for zinc, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of zinc in that single serving.
Zinc Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult
These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.
To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.
Written by J. Marshall
Try our Slow-Cooker Maple Baked Beans recipe! Beans are an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient zinc.
Try our Chocolate Energy Bars recipe! Seeds and oats are excellent whole food sources for the essential nutrient zinc.
- Canadian Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.ca
- The World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com
- University of Maryland Medical Center: http://umm.edu
- Global Healing Center: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com
- Health Canada: Dietary Reference Intake Tables: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php