Zinc In Food And Its Benefits

Zinc has been used since the days of Ancient Egypt 5000 years ago. Zinc ointment was used for skin diseases and to accelerate wound healing. Zinc is an important trace element for health and for the normal functioning of every cell in the body. Normally, the human body should contain about 2-3 g of zinc.

Zinc is found in the skin, liver, kidneys, retina, and in men, in addition, to the prostate gland.

A person gets zinc mainly from food. The body needs 10-20 mg of zinc per day for health and proper functioning.

Zinc is a part of enzymes and complexes that ensure the most important physiological functions of the body:

  • growth and metabolism at the cellular level, protein synthesis, and wound healing.
  • activation of immune reactions directed against bacteria, viruses, and tumor cells.
  • assimilation of carbohydrates and fats.
  • support and improvement of memory.
  • support of taste and smell sensitivity.
  • ensuring the stability of the retina and transparency of the eye lens.
  • normal development and functioning of the genitals.

The highest levels of zinc are found in sprouted wheat, bran, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, oysters, and lamb. Smaller amounts of zinc are found in beef, pork, chicken, offal, beef liver, river fish, whole grain bread, legumes, rabbit and chicken meat, kefir, egg yolks, cashew nuts, chocolate, onions, garlic, sea fish, and milk.

Fruits and vegetables are generally poor in zinc. So vegetarians and people who eat insufficient foods containing this trace element may develop zinc deficiency.

Eating too salty or too sweet foods for a long time can have a negative impact on your health, and it can also reduce the amount of zinc in your body.

Zinc deficiency can be caused not only by an unhealthy diet. It can also be caused by a decrease in thyroid function, liver and kidney disease, and poor absorption of this mineral by the body. Taking certain medications, such as some contraceptive pills and hormonal drugs, and calcium preparations (especially for older women).

Low zinc levels in the blood are characteristic of a whole list of diseases: atherosclerosis, liver cirrhosis, cancer, heart disease, rheumatism, arthritis, diabetes, gastric and duodenal ulcers, and body ulcers.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency

  • growth retardation in children.
  • late puberty.
  • impotence in men and infertility in women
  • poor wound healing.
  • irritability and memory loss.
  • the appearance of acne.
  • focal hair loss.
  • loss of appetite, taste, and smell.
  • brittle nails.
  • frequent infections.
  • impaired absorption of vitamins A, C, and E
  • increased cholesterol levels.

In case of zinc deficiency, white spots appear on the nails. This is accompanied by fatigue, frequent infections, and allergic reactions.

Zinc enhances the effect of vitamin D and promotes better absorption of calcium, so its deficiency leads to osteoporosis – weakening of bones and increased fragility, especially in the elderly.

Pregnant women are advised to eat zinc-rich foods daily to prevent miscarriages.

Even a small deficiency of zinc in the body can reduce the ability of the immune system to resist tumor cells. Therefore, if your body lacks zinc, you should consume animal products, as well as bran, sprouted wheat, whole grain bread, and other foods rich in zinc.

The resolution of the conference of the Scientific Society of America states: “Since the lack of zinc in the human body has a negative impact on its health, disrupts the growth and development of the human body, and causes many other disease conditions, zinc should be recognized as a vital element for humans.”

Notes on taking zinc preparations

Unlike natural products, zinc supplements may cause an overdose. Therefore, when taking food supplements containing zinc, be careful: an excess of zinc can interfere with the absorption of other trace elements, such as copper, in the intestines and lead to their deficiency. It is preferable to use zinc sulfate rather than its complex salts (zinc gluconate, aspartate, or zinc picolinate), which do not have this harmful effect on the absorption of other minerals.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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