Although zinc is found in all body tissues and fluid, high concentrations are found in skeletal muscles, bones, skin, eyes (particularly the macula), brain, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and prostate. Zinc is required for over 300 enzyme reactions within the body including carbohydrate metabolism, protein and DNA synthesis, protein digestion, bone metabolism and antioxidant pathways. Zinc also plays an important role in growth and development, the immune response, neurological function and reproduction.
Inadequate zinc levels are common and impact on health in a relatively short period of time. Several factors can increase zinc requirements and affect zinc absorption. Taking iron supplements can inhibit zinc absorption, although ironically, the presence of both iron and zinc in a meal does not reduce zinc absorption.
Food sources of zinc
Food sources of zinc include meat, liver, eggs, seafood (especially oysters and shellfish), nuts, legumes, wholegrains, miso, tofu, brewer’s yeast, mushrooms, green beans and pumpkin seeds.
Phytates in the diet can inhibit zinc absorption. Phytates, found in foods such as wholegrains, nuts, legumes and beans, bind with zinc making it unavailable for absorption. The impact of phytates on zinc absorption can be minimised by soaking, heating, sprouting and fermenting these foods. The health of the digestive system and the amount of protein in the diet also affects zinc absorption.
Some of the amazinc benefits of zinc:
- Maintains healthy skin and promotes wound healing (zinc is required for enzymes and proteins involved in skin renewal)
- Essential for the formation of connective tissues including teeth, bones, nails, hair and skin
- Potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps protect against free radical damage
- Supports the healthy functioning of the immune system
- Maintains normal taste sensation
- Aids in the healthy metabolism of carbohydrates and the digestion of proteins
- Helps maintain male reproductive health, including prostate gland health and the health and motility of sperm.
Here are four great ways to supplement zinc today: