Although commonly overlooked, zinc is one of the essential minerals for proper body function. For one thing, it supports numerous enzymes in the body, strengthens immune system function, and promotes wound healing, synthesis of DNA, and normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.
Zinc deficiency has been linked to thyroid issues, acne, infertility (mostly in men as a result of reduced sperm count), weak immune system, thinning hair, rashes, loss of appetite, weight loss, growth impairment, slow wound healing, and even depression.
Acute colds and macular (eye) degeneration are often treated with zinc. However, medications such as birth control pills, antibiotics, and over-the-counter antacids can affect your zinc levels in time. Also, excessive exposure to this mineral can lead to toxicity as well as interrupt copper and iron storage, but also lead to GI upset, confusion, as well as rashes. Excess zinc has also been linked to prostate cancer. Zinc is often found in paint, dyes, and ointments.
This information is important because you should always have your zinc levels checked first before you start any over-the-counter supplements.
Also, taking zinc supplements can trigger nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, headache, lethargy, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Getting it naturally through foods is a far better option.
These are the top food options for proper zinc intake:
Shellfish, particularly oysters, are packed with zinc. There are approximately 76 grams of zinc in a serving of six medium oysters, which is seven times more than the daily recommended value for adults (RDA), which is about 10 grams per day, depending on age and whether you’re breastfeeding and lactating.
Meat is another rich source of zinc – beef shanks providing 8.9 grams per serving, pork shoulder 4.2 grams per serving, pork tenderloin 2.7 grams per serving, one chicken leg 3.4 grams, and chicken breast 1 gram per serving. Plus, meat also provides iron, B12, and protein.
3# Fortified breakfast cereals
Zinc is also found in cereals with some fortified cereals providing about 25 % RDA per serving (about ¾ cup).
Diary including cheeses, yogurt, and whole milk provide about 1 gram of zinc per serving.
5# Nuts & Seeds
Last, but not least, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and almonds are a great source of this essential mineral. Plus, they make a healthy snack. Nuts range from 1 to 2 grams of zinc per serving, with pumpkin seeds being the highest. Nuts and seeds also provide healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and magnesium.