Zinc is an essential and very important mineral that we need to consume through diet or supplementation that is found in almost every cell of your body, which it explains why it is involved in the activity of over 200 bodily processes.
Zinc supports a healthy immune system, it is essential for wound healing, helps maintain your sense of taste and smell, it is needed for DNA synthesis, the maintenance of body tissues, sexual function, the immune system, detoxification of chemicals and metabolic irritants, It supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.
Zinc is necessary for a healthy immune system to fight away the common cold and other illnesses, it can help to alleviate skin problems such as acne, scaring, and boils.
It is also required for cell division, healthy hair, skin and nails and the growth and maintenance of our muscles and connective tissue.
It is important that children consume adequate zinc for normal growth and sexual development.
What if you don't consume enough Zinc?
Many people have inadequate zinc in their intake, and even if zinc is consumed it can be destroyed in the cooking process.
A deficiency will result in a weakened immune system, therefore you might get sick more often or take longer to recover from illness.
Zinc deficiency can also cause night blindness, loss of smell, hair loss, white spots on the skin under your fingernails, skin problems, and sleep disturbances to name a few.
Men with zinc shortage may have a problem with fertility and issues with the prostate gland, or low sperm count, loss of libito and other emotional problems due to zinc is an ingredient needed to produce testosterone.
Women are at higher risk of deficiency if they are in the contraceptive pill, and deficiency may cause irregular periods.
Children with too little zinc may have stunted growth and slow sexual maturity. With too little in the body, the sense of taste and smell might suffer.
Those on a plant-based diet, those who are pregnant or lactating, as well as people suffering from psoriasis or consume excessive alcohol should also be mindful of their zinc intake to ensure they don't become deficient.
Sources of Zinc: Zinc is found in a wide variety of foods, but the gold medal goes to oysters for containing more zinc per serving than any other food. Red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in most individuals intake, but other good food sources include beans, nuts, certain seafood, whole grains, and dairy products. Zinc absorption is greater from a diet high in animal protein than a diet rich in plant proteins due to phytates (which are found in whole grain breads, cereals, legumes and other products) can decrease the amount of zinc absorbed. A well planned vegetarian diet can provide adequate amounts of zinc from plant sources. Good sources of zinc for vegetarians include whole grains, tofu, tempeh, legumes, nuts and seeds, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products.
To sum it all up:
Optimal zinc status is critical to good health. Without zinc, more than 200 enzyme systems would fail to operate efficiently and adequate, affecting overall health and wellbeing.
Health consequences of inadequate Zinc includes stunted growth and development, reduced immunity, infertility, poor wound healing, reduced sensory perceptions (including taste, smell, hearing and sight) and psychiatric problems.
I take a high quality Zn supplement each day to ensure adequate stores with noticeable improvements in hair, skin and nail strength. If you wish to consider a supplement, please reach out so I can help you find a product & dose that suits your individualised requirements.
Nikki Brown-Shepherd Accredited Practising Dietitian email@example.com