Zinc Recipe & Nutrition | Precision Nutrition's Encyclopedia of Food

Zinc

Zinc

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At a Glance

Zinc is an essential mineral that the body can only obtain through food, ideally through animal foods as this helps absorption. Zinc plays many functions in the body including aiding in growth and development, neurological function, reproduction, and immune function, as well as supporting cell structure. Zinc can be found in poultry, oysters, wild game, mushrooms, sesame seeds, and more.

Overview

Zinc is an essential mineral for humans. Since your body doesn’t produce it, you must obtain it through food (or supplements). Zinc obtained from animal foods seems better absorbed. The amino acids cysteine and methionine can improve zinc absorption. Eating too much folate, supplemental iron, calcium, or dietary phytates can make it harder to absorb enough zinc.

Importance

Zinc has many functions in the body including:

  • Assisting in growth, development, neurological function, reproduction, and immune function
  • Acting as a critical component of apoptosis (cell death)
  • Acting as a catalyst: for enzymes to catalyze chemical reactions, zinc must be present
  • Supporting cell structure: the structure of proteins and cell membranes depend upon zinc; when zinc is lost from these structures, vulnerability to oxidative damage and deteriorating function may occur
  • Helping with the regulation of gene expressions, cellular signaling, hormone release, and nerve transmission.

Food Sources

Zinc can be found in several foods including:

Deficiencies

Common symptoms and resulting conditions of zinc deficiency include:

  • Growth retardation
  • Lowered immune status
  • Skeletal abnormalities
  • Delayed sexual maturation
  • Poor wound healing
  • Taste changes
  • Night blindness
  • Hair loss.

However, your individual response could be different. If you suspect a health problem or deficiency in certain nutrients, please see your primary health care provider (doctor, naturopath, etc). They can help unravel the complexity of your physiology.

Note: Those at risk for deficiency include the elderly, those with alcoholism, those with malabsorption diseases, vegans, and those with severe diarrhea.

Excess/Toxicity

Common symptoms of zinc excess/toxicity include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting.

However, your individual response could be different. If you suspect a health problem or an excess of certain nutrients, please see your primary health care provider (doctor, naturopath, etc). They can help unravel the complexity of your physiology.

Note: Long-term consumption of excessive zinc can result in copper deficiency.

Recipe

For recipes rich in zinc, check out any of the Encyclopedia of Food entries for food items listed above.

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At a Glance

Zinc is an essential mineral that the body can only obtain through food, ideally through animal foods as this helps absorption. Zinc plays many functions in the body including aiding in growth and development, neurological function, reproduction, and immune function, as well as supporting cell structure. Zinc can be found in poultry, oysters, wild game, mushrooms, sesame seeds, and more.