Zinc is a mineral most people may overlook, but it has a huge impact on your health, from helping to fight bacteria and viruses to creating DNA, as well as a host of other health benefits.
Most people probably get enough zinc in their daily diet, especially those who eat red meat and dark meat chicken. The real zinc heroes are oysters (5.4mg per 75g serve) with one serve giving you five times the daily required dose.
So, food sources high in zinc include:
- oysters – 74mg
- chuck roast – 7mg
- king crab – 6.5mg
- dark meat chicken – 2.4mg
(zinc amount based on one 75g serve)
An adult man needs around 11mg of zinc a day to reap the benefits, while a woman needs around 8mg. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need a little more at 12mg and children require between 2 to 11mg depending on their age and gender.
While you may think that your daily serving of meat and chicken is giving you enough zinc, if you’re a drinker, or have had stomach surgery, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, or if you’re a vegetarian, you may have to take a supplement, or speak to your GP about how to get more zinc into your diet.
So why do you need zinc? Well, apart from the aforementioned benefits, zinc may help to prevent age-related macular degeneration – an eye disease that cause vision loss over time. Some studies have revealed that taking a daily multivitamin and zinc reduced their chance of developing the disease.
Zinc also promotes healthy skin, which protects you from heat, cold, viruses and bacteria. It may even lessen the effects of the common cold, but more research is needed to find out if this is the case.
While these health benefits are appealing, too much zinc can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache and nausea. It may also skew your immune system, copper levels and reduce your good cholesterol. Aim for the recommended levels, but don’t go over 40mg a day, especially for extended periods.
Zinc supplements are a good way to get zinc into your diet without having to think about it, but they can interact with other medications, especially antibiotics and some arthritis medicines. As with all dietary changes, you should check with a health professional first.
Do you have enough zinc in your diet? What’s your favourite source of zinc?
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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.