Zinc is so much more than a cold remedy! It's also an essential trace mineral than we need in our diet every day. Did you know that zinc is found in more than 200 enzymes in our bodies?
What does zinc do for us?
- Supports our immune system by making it stronger! It does this by blocking mucus and bacteria build up in our nasal passages (and can also speed up the healing process if we do get sick)
- Contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce damage from oxidative stress and reduce cancer risk
- Helps produce hormones including insulin (which helps regulate blood sugar) as well as reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone (which impacts our menstrual cycles and fertility)
- Builds healthy cells within our cardiovascular system which can support healthy circulation, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Helps us digest and absorb our food, especially proteins and carbohydrates
- Keeps our liver healthy by lowering inflammation and free radical damage
- Supports the maintenance and repair process of our body's tissues, which can be especially helpful during times of excessive stress or after an illness/injury
- Serves as food for our brains and helps promote mental alertness
Signs of a zinc deficiency can include:
- Changes in appetite or the ability to taste/smell
- Digestive issues
- Chronic fatigue
- Hormone issues and/or infertility
- Weak immune system
- Slow wound healing
- Hair loss
- Poor concentration
So how much do we need?
Individuals that are most at risk for a zinc deficiency are 1) those who don't consume any meat/dairy (since those are the most absorbable forms), 2) anyone with a compromised digestive system due to issues like leaky gut and 3) people on birth control pills, since that can interfere with zinc's role with hormones.
An optimal daily amount of zinc is around 17-20mg (potentially more if recovering from an illness or experiencing other health issues).
Some excellent food sources of zinc include:
- Meats such as lamb, grass-fed beef, chicken and turkey
- Seafood, especially oysters
- Nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds and cashews
- Legumes, especially chickpeas
While it's always best to get our nutrients from food, supplementation can be beneficial for some people depending on the circumstances. Zinc picolinate is a highly absorbable form. Long term supplementation is not recommended as it could interfere with the body's absorption of copper and other minerals.
If you think you could benefit from more zinc but aren’t sure where to start, contact me and I'm happy to help!