Vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in the way our bodies function. And if we were to rank vital minerals in order of importance, zinc would come in second right behind iron. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the health benefits of zinc. Additionally, we’ll share six of the best ways to ensure you’re getting enough of this important mineral.
Research has shown that this mineral plays a critical role in a number of metabolic and bodily functions. For example, it has has been linked to improved immune systems, faster wound healing, and protein and DNA synthesis, and that’s just naming a few.
Interestingly, though, the human body does not store this mineral, so your daily intake must be achieved through your diet or possibly even supplements. It may be worth noting here that zinc is a trace element, and the recommended daily intake for men is 11g, and 8g for women.
Researchers have even reported an association between low zinc levels and poor outcomes among patients that have been infected with COVID-19. For this study, researchers examined data on 611 patients between March 15 to April 30. According to the study, 249 of those patients died. Among those who died, the average zinc-blood level was 43 micrograms per deciliter. The surviving patients’ average zinc-blood level was 63 micrograms per deciliter (considered normal). After other factors (age, sex, illness severity) were adjusted, the researchers found that each unit increase in zinc-blood level was associated with a 7% lower risk of in-hospital death.
Based on the previous section, it stands to reason that a deficiency in this vital mineral can lead to poor immune function and delayed wound healing. However, zinc deficiencies can go far beyond frequent colds. Zinc deficiencies have been linked to gut and digestive issues, acne, hair loss, thyroid problems, and even reproductive issues.
So what foods should you eat in order to ensure you’re getting enough of this important mineral?
Oysters are a well-known source of zinc. In fact, oysters contain more of this crucial trace mineral per serving than any other food. Three ounces of cooked, fried oysters contain a whopping 74 mg/serving or 673% of the daily recommended intake. But if oysters aren’t your bag, you have plenty of other options. Three ounces of lobster or Alaskan king crab have 3.5 mg/serving and 6.5 mg/serving, respectively.
While oysters have an astounding amount of zinc per serving, red meat and poultry are the most common sources of this key mineral in the American diet. Three ounces of dark meat chicken contains 2.4 mg/serving, and 100g of grass-fed beef contains 4.55 mg/serving. Not too bad when you consider that men and women only require 11g and 8g, respectively per day. Remember that if you want to add a little variety to your diet, lamb and pork are also good sources of the trace mineral as well.
While dairy products are excellent sources of zinc, they have the added bonus of being bioavailable. Simply stated, your body can easily absorb zinc (and other vitamins and minerals). One cup of low-fat milk can provide 1.0 mg/serving, and one ounce of cheddar cheese provides 0.9 mg/serving.
Nuts and seeds are a delicious source of zinc, and therein lies the problem. Nuts are also high in fat. So, if you opt for these delicious treats as your preferred source for this essential mineral, you may want to keep an eye on your waistline as well. While one ounce of roasted almonds delivers 0.9 mg/serving, one ounce of cashews and pumpkin seeds provide slightly more with 1.6 mg/serving and 2.2 mg/serving, respectively.
For vegetarians and vegans, legumes are an ideal source for zinc in their diets. Chickpeas and lentils are particularly good sources. One hundred grams of chickpeas provide 2.5 mg/serving, and 1 cup of cooked lentils delivers 2.5 mg/serving.
Saving the best for last, dark chocolate is an excellent source of zinc, not to mention it’s decadent and delicious. Dark chocolate comes with the same caveat as nuts, while they are a good source of zinc, they can be high in calories. If dark chocolate is your preferred source for getting this vital trace mineral into your diet, opt for lower sugar content, and be sure to pay attention to the amount of cocoa. One ounce of dark chocolate (70% -85% cocoa) provides 0.9 mg/serving of zinc.
Zinc is an essential trace element crucial for the optimal performance of many metabolic and bodily functions. While our bodies cannot store it, there are plenty of dietary sources and plenty of opportunities in a day for us to meet our daily requirements. From seafood to dark chocolate, the possibilities are endless.
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