Zinc is a dynamic mineral that is normally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a food supplement. Zinc is also found in some over-the-counter drugs sold as cold remedies and several cold lozenges.
Why do we need zinc? Zinc is one of the elements that are essential to human health. It has various fundamental functions within our bodies such as enabling us to generate new cells in wound healing, fetal development, immune function, treat diarrhea and childhood growth. It also plays a vital role in the digestion of the macronutrients that we intake every day like carbohydrate, fat, and protein.
How much zinc does our body need? Excess zinc that we can consume is not stored, unlike some other nutrients. Therefore, it is mainly significant that we make sure we consume zinc every day. The average adult women need between 4. 0-7.0 mg and male requires 5.5-9.5 mg every day for the body to be able to perform optimally.
So, what are the foods that are good sources of zinc? With regards to zinc content, Oysters are on the top of the list because they provide a huge74 mg per 3 oz serving which is 10 times over our daily requirement! However, you do not need to rush to the fishmongers. If you are a meat eater, you are likely to have no problem getting your zinc intake per day because red meat is a main good zinc source, as well as poultry, beans, nuts, dairy products, certain types of seafood such as lobster and crab, whole grains and fortified breakfast cereals.
A vegetarian may not need to worry about taking too much because nuts, particularly cashews and pulses also contain zinc. However, it is still important to keep in mind that the proteins in meat enhances the absorption of zinc into the body, phytates which are found in plant-based sources such as cereals, whole-grain bread, legumes, and other food-bind zinc prevent absorption which means that it can take a higher initial consumption of zinc-rich foods for you to meet your everyday requirements. Fortunately, process foods such as cereals and bread are now often fortified with zinc too.
Do we still need to take zinc supplements? No, if you eat a varied and balanced diet. If so, you can already guarantee that you will get your recommended daily intake of zinc. Too much zinc can be bad for the body. Some health risks and acute adverse effects from excessive zinc intake include headaches, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain cramps, vomiting and loss of appetite. Zinc toxicity can occur in both chronic and acute forms. So, preferably, you should only take a zinc supplement if it is recommended by your doctor.
On the other hand, not taking zinc with a sufficient amount every day can cause zinc deficiency. Zinc insufficiency is defined by impaired immune function, loss of taste and growth impedance. In more severe cases, zinc deficiency also causes skin and eye lesions, impotence, hair loss, hypogonadism particularly in males, delayed sexual maturation, diarrhea, taste abnormalities, delayed healing of wounds, weight loss and mental lethargy. Several of these symptoms are often associated with other health conditions and non-specific. So, a medical examination is important to determine whether a zinc deficiency is present.