Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is vital for the human body. Our body doesn’t store zinc, so we need to eat enough of zinc every day to ensure our meeting daily requirements. It plays an important role for proper growth, functioning as well as divisions of the cells. Zinc also supports our immune system and keeps it strong and healthy.
It also helps in the process of wound healing, collagen production, normal function of the thyroid and efficient breakdown of carbohydrates in the body. It is essential for fetal development as well as helps in the growth and development of infants and kids. Acute diarrhea in small children and stunted growth can be treated with zinc. It is an essential mineral to maintain healthy skin and hair.
Benefits of Zinc:- Zinc plays an important role in many body functions, including:
- Growth: Zinc is required for physical growth and development. Its deficiency can lead to impaired growth in children and adolescents, stimulate the particular immune cells and reduce oxidative stress.
- Immune System Function: It is very important for the production of immune system cells.
- Enzyme Function: Zinc helps the body to use folic acid, produce new proteins and DNA.
- Eye Health: The development of eye conditions like macular degeneration is due to zinc deficiency.
- Wound healing: Zinc promotes collagen production, healthy skin, and mucous membranes, which enhances wound healing.
Recommendation of zinc:- Recommended dietary intake of zinc as per National Institute of Health (NIH) guidelines
- Males of 14 yrs and older: 11 milligrams (mg)
- Females 14 yrs and older: 9 mg
- Pregnant Women: 11 mg
- Women who are Lactating: 12 mg
Zinc Deficiency can cause :
- Impaired growth and development
- Skin rashes
- Chronic diarrhea
- Impaired wound healing
Those who are at higher risk of zinc deficiency are listed below:-
- People with gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease.
- Vegetarians and those who are vegan.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Older Infants who are totally dependent on breastfeeding.
- People who are malnourished, including those with Anorexia or Bulimia.
- People with Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Those who are addicted to Alcohol.
- Those who are taking certain immune-suppressing medications.
Foods High in Zinc:- Some richest sources of zinc are listed below:-
- Shellfish:- Shellfish are sources of zinc, among which oysters contain high amounts of zinc, oysters, on the other hand, are also a rich source of protein and they help to boost protein intake without increasing fat consumption.
- Legumes: Legumes like chickpeas, beans, and lentils, are all rich sources of zinc. It also contains phytates, which reduces the absorption of zinc, but processing methods like heating, sprouting, soaking or fermenting can help improve its bioavailability.
- Seeds:- Seeds like sesame seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, all are good sources of zinc. Sesame seeds are also a rich source of phytosterols, which help lower cholesterol. Flaxseeds are also extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids which boost heart and brain health. The seeds also help in the treatment of arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in phytoestrogens which prove beneficial in postmenopausal women by improving cholesterol. These seeds not only contain zinc but are also rich in fiber, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
- Oats:-Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that regulates cholesterol levels and enhances the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
- Kidney Beans:- Apart from providing adequate amounts of zinc, kidney beans also control blood sugar levels and invariably help in the treatment of diabetes.
- Almonds:-Almonds have antioxidant properties that relieve stress and even slow down aging. It is also a rich source of vitamin E, a nutrient that protects the cell membranes from damage. The vitamin also decreases the risk of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s
- Peanuts:-Peanut consumption has also reduced the risk of gallstone development as they have cholesterol-lowering effects of peanuts as gallstones are mostly made of cholesterol.
Zinc is important for DNA synthesis, immune function, metabolism, and proper physical and mental growth. It reduces inflammation. It is important to take zinc supplements according to the recommendation and only take when necessary because an excess of everything is bad.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is important for maintaining a healthy immune system and is a boon for overall health. Include a variety of foods with good sources of zinc like meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes and dairy to ensure that you are getting enough zinc.