Zinc is an essential mineral in some foods that is naturally present, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Zinc is also present in many cold lozenges, and some medications marketed as cold medicines over the counter.
It is responsible for a variety of roles in the human body and it appears to activate at least 100 different enzymes to action. It just takes a limited intake of zinc to reap the benefits.
Zinc can be present in cells all over the body. It’s required for the proper functioning of the body’s defense (immune) mechanism. It plays a role in the division of the cells, cell formation, wound healing, and carbohydrate breakdown.
Zinc is important for the senses of smell and taste, too. The body requires zinc for proper growth and development during birth, infancy, and childhood. Zinc also increases insulin activity.
Daily Required Intake of Iron
Adequate intake of zinc is especially important for children as even a mild deficiency of zinc may hinder development, increase the risk of infection, and increase the risk of diarrhea and respiratory disease.
The average consumption for children aged 1-8 varies from 3-5 milligrams, which decreases as the child grows older.
According to National Institutes of Health, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Zinc :
|0–6 months||2 mg*||2 mg*|
|7–12 months||3 mg||3 mg|
|1–3 years||3 mg||3 mg|
|4–8 years||5 mg||5 mg|
|9–13 years||8 mg||8 mg|
|14–18 years||11 mg||9 mg||12 mg||13 mg|
|19+ years||11 mg||8 mg||11 mg||12 mg|
* Adequate Intake (AI)
Sources of Zinc
Shellfish – Shellfish are safe sources of zinc and are low in calories. Oysters produce particularly large concentrations, with 6 medium oysters containing 32 mg, or 291 percent of the RDA. Many shellfish styles contain less zinc than oysters but still constitute strong sources. Shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, mussels, and shrimp will all add to your everyday needs for zinc.
Seeds – Seeds are a safe complement to your diet and can help increase your intake of zinc. 3 Tablespoons (30 grams) of hemp seeds contain 31 percent and 43 percent of the RDA for men and women respectively. Such seeds such as hemp, pumpkin, squash, and sesame seeds contain large quantities of zinc. These are also a decent source of protein, healthy fats, and minerals, making them a healthy complement to the diet.
Meat – Red meat is an especially good choice but there are sufficient quantities to be found in all types of meat, including beef, lamb, and pork. A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) raw ground beef serving typically contains 4.8 mg of zinc, which is 44 percent of the RDA. Meat contains 176 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 10 grams of fat. Moreover, it is a decent source of many other essential nutrients, including magnesium, vitamins B, and creatine.
Legumes – The legumes are rich in zinc. They do produce phytate, though, which reduces its absorption. Methods of processing such as boiling, sprouting, soaking, or fermentation can help boost its bioavailability. One hundred grams of cooked lentils comprise about 12 percent of RDA.
Dairy Foods – Dairy foods are important sources of zinc. These do provide protein, calcium, and vitamin D, both necessary nutrients for bone health. 100 grams of cheddar cheese is approximately 28% RDA, whereas a single cup of full-fat milk is approximately 9% RDA.
Nuts – Nuts are a nutritious and easy snack and will improve your zinc intake and many other important nutrients. Eating nuts like pine nuts, peanuts, cashews, and almonds will help improve zinc intake. Cashews are a good choice. A portion of 1-ounce (28-gram) comprises 15 percent of the RDA.
Eggs – One large egg contains 5 percent zinc RDA and a variety of other nutrients, including calcium, good fats, B vitamins, selenium, and choline.
Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate can serve as a source of zinc. It is also rich in calories and sugar though, and it can be consumed in moderation rather than as a main source of zinc. A bar of 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of 70–85 percent dark chocolate contains 3.3 mg of zinc or 30% of RDA.
Whole Grains – Whole grains may provide a dietary supply of zinc. However, owing to the presence of phytates, the zinc they contain can not be consumed, as well as other outlets.
There are also zinc supplements available in capsules and tablets format. For males and females over 18 years the tolerable upper limit for zinc is 40 milligrams.
Benefits of Zinc
Zinc is vital to a stable immune system, correctly synthesizing DNA, encouraging stable childhood development, and healing wounds.
Some of the health benefits of zinc include:
Diarrhea – Zinc deficiency triggers immune response alterations which are likely to lead to increased vulnerability to infections, such as those causing diarrhea, particularly in children. Studies indicate that weak, malnourished children in India, Africa, South America, and South-East Asia suffer shorter contagious diarrhea after zinc supplementation.
Common cold – Zinc (lozenges or syrup), if administered within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, is helpful in minimizing the length and severity of common cold in healthy individuals. Zinc lozenges have been found to shorten up to 40 percent of common cold episodes.
Wound Healing – Zinc helps preserve the durability of skin and mucosal membranes. Patients with chronic wounds or ulcers frequently have inadequate zinc synthesis and reduced plasma zinc levels. In topical creams, Zinc is also used to treat diaper rash or other skin irritations.
Certain Age-related Diseases – Zinc will substantially reduce the risk of age-related diseases, such as influenza, cancer, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Zinc can reduce oxidative stress and enhance the immune response by improving T-cell function and natural killer cells that help protect the body from infection.
Fertility – Several studies and trials have linked low sperm quality to poor zinc status. For eg, one study in the Netherlands showed participants had a higher sperm count following supplementation with zinc sulfate and folic acid. Researchers also suggested in another report that inadequate consumption of zinc can be a risk factor for low sperm content and male infertility.
Other benefits of Zinc :
- Decreases Inflammation
- Reduce Acne
- Effective learning and Memory
- Boost Immune system
- Reduce the risk of Pneumonia
Deficiency of Zinc
Zinc deficiency is usually attributed to a lack of food consumption. This is rare. It may arise in individuals with unusual genetic defects, breastfeeding babies whose mothers have inadequate zinc, individuals with drug addictions, and everyone taking other immune suppressant medicines.
Mild types of zinc deficiency are more frequent especially in children in developed countries where essential nutrients are often missing in diets.
Here are some symptoms of zinc deficiency :
- Taste and smell disorder
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Slow wound healing
Because zinc deficiency impairs the immune system — raising the risk of infection — it is believed that zinc deficiency causes more than 450,000 deaths in children under 5 a year.
The people at risk of deficiency in zinc are :
- Pregnant and Breastfeeding woman
- Vegetarian and Vegan
- People with chronic kidney disease
- Alcohol Addictive
Risk of Overdose
Zinc has a lot of health benefits but the high consumption of zinc can be dangerous. Too much excess zinc is the most prevalent cause of zinc toxicity, which can cause both acute and chronic effects.
Adverse effects of a very high intake of zinc can include:
- Stomach pain
- Decreased “good” HDL cholesterol levels
Taking too much zinc can deficient other nutrients.