Zinc is a type of essential micronutrient because it is needed in small amounts for human health. The human body cannot produce or store zinc. Hence, it must be consumed regularly as a dietary component.
Zinc intake is needed in the body for the following:
- Gene expression
- Enzymatic reactions
- Immune function
- Protein synthesis
- DNA synthesis
- Wound healing
- Growth and development
Including zinc in your diet every day is okay, provided it is within the recommended daily allowance, which is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for adult men. Since zinc is a trace mineral, consumption of an excess amount can cause health problems. The most widely recognized cause for zinc toxicity is taking high amounts of supplemental zinc, which can cause both acute and chronic symptoms.
Signs of zinc toxicity
What are the food sources of zinc?
Numerous animal and plant dietary food sources are naturally rich in zinc, including:
- Shellfish: Oysters, crab, mussels, lobster, and mollusks
- Meat: Beef, pork, sheep, and buffalo
- Poultry: Turkey and chicken
- Fish: Flounder, sardines, salmon, and sole
- Vegetables: Chickpeas, lentils, dark beans, kidney beans, and so on
- Nuts and seeds: Pumpkin seeds, cashews, hemp seeds, and more
- Dairy items: Milk, yogurt, and cheddar
- Whole grains: Oats, quinoa, earthy colored rice, and so on
- Certain vegetables: Mushrooms, kale, peas, asparagus, and beet greens
Additionally, zinc can be taken in the form of supplements, although opt for absorbable forms such as zinc citrate or zinc gluconate. Avoid zinc oxide, which is poorly absorbed. Zinc lozenges can also be taken to improve immunity during the common cold, making it a popular cold remedy along with vitamin C.
What are the 4 health benefits of zinc?
Four potential health benefits of zinc intake include:
- Boosts the immune system
- Helps heal wounds
- May reduce the risk of certain age-related diseases
- May help treat acne
What are the signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency?
Zinc deficiency is rare. It can happen in individuals with certain genetic diseases, breastfed newborns whose moms need more zinc, individuals with alcohol addictions, and anybody taking certain immune-suppressing medicines.
Side effects of moderate zinc insufficiency include:
- Decreased immunity
- Thinning of hair
- Decreased appetite
- Mood disturbances
- Dry skin
- Fertility issues
- Impaired wound healing
Side effects of severe zinc deficiency include:
- Impaired growth and development
- Delayed sexual maturity
- Skin rashes
- Chronic diarrhea
- Impaired wound healing
- Behavioral issues
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Medline Plus. Zinc in Diet. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002416.htm
Maret W, Sandstead HH. Zinc Requirements and the Risks and Benefits of Zinc Supplementation. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2006;20(1):3-18. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0946672X06000411