ZINC

The best sources of zinc:

ProductServing sizeCaloriesAmount (mcg)DRI/DV (%)Nutrient densityQuality
Veal liver120g18710.8726.9Very Good
Champignons150g311.610.46Very Good
Spinach1 small plate411.49.14Very Good
Beef120g2406.342.23.2Good
Lamb120g2294.630.72.4Good
Zucchini1 small plate360.74.72.3Good
Asparagus1 small plate430.85.12.1Good
Game120g1793.120.82.1Good
Swiss chard1 small plate350.63.92Good
Shrimps120g1121.811.81.9Good
Collard greens1 small plate490.85.31.9Good
Pumpkin seeds1/4 cup1872.617.11.7Good
Yoghurt1 cup1552.214.51.7Good
Peas1 cup1341.912.71.7Good
Broccoli1 small plate440.64.11.7Good
Sesame seeds1/4 cup2062.818.71.6Good
Mustard2 tbs350.42.91.5Good

FUNCTIONS

The beneficial effects of products rich in zinc:

  • Help to maintain the blood sugar balance;
  • Stabilize the speed of metabolic processes;
  • Prevent exhaustion of the immune system;
  • Support optimal senses of smell and taste.

Which indications require consumption of more products rich in zinc?

  • Frequent colds and infections;
  • Depression;
  • Reduced sense of taste and smell;
  • Appetite loss;
  • Slow development in children.

THE IMPACT OF STORAGE, PROCESSING AND COOKING

Like most of the minerals, the zinc can be found in different forms in the products, and accordingly reacts differently to cooking and processing. When it is found in a form that is soluble in water, then the cooking of the products in water may result with great loss of zinc.  For example, boiling the white beans leads to zinc loss of about 50% of its content.

PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS

In 1999 the National Academy of Sciences established the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) levels for zinc. The recommendations are as follows:

  • 0 – 6 months: 2 mg
  • 7 – 3 years: 3 mg
  • 4 – 8 years: 5 mg
  • 9 – 13 years: 8 mg
  • 14 – 18 years, female: 9 mg
  • 14+ years, male: 11 mg
  • 19+ years, female: 8 mg
  • Pregnant women, 14 – 18 years: 12 mg
  • Pregnant women, 19+ years: 11 mg
  • Lactating women, 14 – 18 years: 13 mg
  • Lactating women, 19+ years: 12 mg

The Daily Value (DV) for zinc is 15 mg per day for adults and children older than 4 years. DVs are the standards used on food packaging labels.

WHY DO WE NEED PRODUCTS RICH IN ZINC?

By consuming products rich in zinc we increase the body consumption of this important nutrient as well as other nutrients which act synergistically with it. This process stimulates its physiological function and contributes to optimal health.

Zinc is a mineral that comes in traces and which must be consumed through food on a daily basis. The first studies conducted on the importance of zinc in the diet were focused on its effect on the development. A diet low in zinc resulted in slow development of the young boys as well as slower sexual maturation. These studies show some of the key functions of zinc, such as genetic activity and balancing the metabolism of the carbohydrates and the blood sugar level.

THE BENEFICIAL EFFECTS OF THE ZINC ON THE HEALTH

Immune function

The zinc is needed for the optimal functioning of many types of immune cells. The researchers conducted a special study on the effect of zinc deficiency on the immune system and the number of white blood cells, with particular emphasis on T – lymphocytes, macrophages and B – cells. Those studies showed that the zinc deficiency have negative impact on the number of white blood cells and the immune system response, while zinc supplements establish normal function.

Maintains the balance of glucose and regulates the speed of metabolic processes

In order to transfer sugar from the blood into the cells we need insulin. The reaction of our cells to the insulin is called insulin response. When we do not consume enough zinc, this response is weaker and it is more difficult to stabilize the blood sugar. The speed of the metabolic processes depends on the zinc as well. If there is not sufficient zinc in the body, then the metabolism is reduced.

Maintains the senses of smell and taste

In order to achieve normal functioning of the sense of taste, zinc must bind with dense proteins, which could be linked with the sense of taste. It, on the other hand is closely related to the sense of smell in the human physiology. Therefore impaired senses of smell and taste are often symptoms of zinc deficiency.

Regulates the genetic activity

The zinc is an important regulator of many genetic activities. It is necessary to read the genetic instructions in the body.

WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR ZINC DEFICIENCY AND ITS SYMPTOMS?

Besides the poor intake through food, other reasons for zinc deficiency could be problems with the digestive system, such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as the decreased production of digestive enzymes in the pancreas. Protein deficiency, especially the amino acid cysteine, can also cause zinc deficiency because it prevents the synthesis of the molecules in charge of its transportation and storage. Chronic diarrhea and excessive sweating can also lead to zinc deficiency.

The symptoms of zinc deficiency include impairment of the senses of smell and taste, depression, appetite loss, slow development in children, frequent colds and infections.

CAN WE CONSUME TOO MUCH ZINC?

The National Academy of Sciences has set a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for zinc intake at 40 mg per day for adults. It would be quite unlikely to be above this threshold by dietary intake alone. Symptoms of zinc poisoning include metallic, bitter taste in mouth, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and cramps.