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12 Foods That Are High in Zinc and Their Benefits – Dr. Kellyann | Black Kite Express

Imagine a dietary dynamo, one that is only present in select foods but offers a host of health benefits. It’s a micronutrient that doesn’t always make the headlines, but our bodies appreciate its presence.

Yes, we are talking about zinc! This essential mineral is often overlooked, but it is absolutely key to our health and well-being. Let’s dive into it and get started!

Why is zinc important?

Zinc, although often overshadowed by more talked about nutrients, is in fact one of the essential nutrients that our bodies deeply depend on. We need it for a variety of important processes that ensure our body runs smoothly.

When it comes to health, sometimes the less-hyped elements, like zinc, are the real treasures.

Zinc can support:

How much zinc do we really need?

Each individual’s nutritional needs are as unique as their fingerprints and zinc is no exception.

The amount of zinc we need fluctuates depending on a variety of factors. One of the most important factors is age, but other determinants include gender and specific life stages such as pregnancy or breastfeeding.

That said, men typically need a daily value of about 11 mg of zinc, while women only need about 8 mg.

But before you rush out to check the zinc content of your favorite foods or make drastic changes to your diet, it would be wise to consult with a nutritionist.

These professionals are highly knowledgeable and can help tailor recommendations to your specific needs, ensuring you receive the proper amount of zinc for optimal health.

Signs of zinc deficiency

The human body is a well-calibrated machine that works perfectly when all its parts are in harmony. However, when even one component, such as zinc levels, is out of balance, the entire system can show signs of deterioration.

While zinc deficiencies are fairly rare in the American diet, there are some symptoms that suggest you may need to increase your daily zinc intake.

These include:

  • Compromised immune function: As we mentioned above, zinc plays an important role in the resilience of our immune system, so a deficiency could leave you more susceptible to infections.
  • Loss of appetite: Your love for food could diminish, making those delicious foods less appealing.
  • Hair loss: Noticeable thinning of your luscious locks may be a sign of zinc deficiency. After all, every hair on our head depends on the enzymes that zinc influences.
  • Diarrhea: A persistent upset stomach and frequent bouts of diarrhea may indicate a lack of zinc.
  • Skin rash: Unexplained rashes or skin irritations may be the result of low zinc levels.
  • Vision problems: Especially in low light conditions, you may find it difficult to see clearly when your zinc level is low.
  • Cognitive impairment: Do you have difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, or just feel mentally sluggish? Zinc plays a fundamental role in brain health.
  • Stunted growth: Especially in children, slower than normal growth can be a warning sign of zinc deficiency.

Factors affecting zinc absorption

The journey of zinc in our body is not simple. It faces a maze of interactions and potential obstacles that can affect its bioavailability. Certain factors favor absorption, while others hinder it.

These include:

  • Age: As we age gracefully, our body’s ability to absorb zinc may decrease.
  • Phytates: Phytates, found in grains and legumes, can limit zinc absorption.
  • Iron: Supplementation with high amounts of iron can potentially hinder zinc absorption.
  • Protein: Animal proteins, especially, improve zinc absorption.
  • Calcium: High calcium intake could compete with zinc, affecting its absorption.
  • Medicines: Some medications, especially certain diuretics and antacids, can reduce zinc absorption.
  • Alcohol: Excess alcohol can decrease the absorption of zinc and increase its elimination from the body.

12 food sources of zinc

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of zinc, it’s time to look at where you can find it. Fortunately, zinc is quite abundant in nature, so there are many options. We have compiled a list of the 12 best sources of zinc that can help you meet your minimum daily requirements.

1. Cashews

Cashews, with their creamy texture and rich flavor, stand out as a reliable source of zinc. Not only are they a versatile snack, but they also ensure that those following plant-based diets don’t miss out on this essential mineral.

2. Chickpeas

A mainstay of many world cuisines, chickpeas are more than the backbone of a tasty hummus dip. These legumes are packed with nutrients, including a decent dose of zinc. Whether in a salad, stew or as a roasted snack, chickpeas are like health on the plate.

3. Crab

For those who savor the flavors of the ocean, crab emerges as a good source of zinc. Its tender meat not only delights the taste buds, but also guarantees a generous influx of zinc, strengthening our daily well-being needs.

4. Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are more than a trendy superfood. These little powerhouses offer a variety of health benefits, from omega-3 fatty acids to, you guessed it, zinc! Add a pinch to your salad or a handful to your morning smoothie and you’re set for a nutrient-dense day.

5. Pumpkin seeds

When carving pumpkins, think twice before discarding the seeds. These often overlooked little wonders are packed with nutrients. They represent the best of plant foods and provide a solid boost of zinc, making them a perfect snack or crunchy salad topping.

6. oysters

When it comes to zinc content, few can rival the mighty oyster. These seafood are not only a gourmet delight, but they are also packed with high concentrations of zinc. A plate of fresh oysters not only means pleasure but also well-being.

7. beef

For many, a juicy steak is the epitome of a delicious meal. And guess what? This red meat favorite isn’t just about flavor. Beef is rich in essential nutrients, with zinc leading the way. However, balance is key. Moderation ensures that you reap the benefits without overdoing it.

8. Quinoa

Going beyond traditional grains can lead you to the treasure that is quinoa. This pseudocereal, often confused with a grain, stands out in the whole grain family for its nutritional profile. It is not only a powerhouse of protein, but also a notable source of zinc, which adds variety and vitality to our dishes.

9. poultry

No matter your preference, poultry is a great way to keep cholesterol in check while ensuring a steady supply of zinc. Grilled, roasted or stewed, it is a versatile and healthy option.

10. yogurt

Yogurt, with its creamy texture and probiotic benefits, is a favorite in many homes. But that is not all. This dairy product is also a commendable source of zinc. You can opt for the low-fat version and combine it with fruits or nuts as a delicious way to increase your daily nutrient intake.

11. Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been revered in many cultures for their medicinal properties. While they are a natural source of vitamin D, they also contribute to our zinc needs. Sautéed, grilled or in a creamy soup, they are essential in any diet.

12. salmon

The king of fish, salmon, is often praised for its omega-rich profile. But the benefits of salmon are not limited to fatty acids. It also has a good amount of zinc, making it a tasty and functional option for any meal.

What about zinc supplements?

In the search for well-being, it is not uncommon to turn to dietary supplements, as they promise a concentrated dose and a quick solution to possible dietary deficiencies. For example, vegetarians can opt for vitamin B12 supplements.

However, there are so many foods rich in zinc that you should have no problem getting enough zinc each day, regardless of possible dietary restrictions. In fact, using zinc supplements runs the risk of overconsuming this mineral, which can lead to a variety of negative side effects.

While an occasional zinc pill is usually good for fending off colds during the winter season, if you take too much zinc (more than 40 mg per day), you may experience nausea, dizziness, vomiting, upset stomach, headaches, and loss of health. of appetite.

Before diving into the world of supplements, always consult with a healthcare professional or dietitian. They can provide you with a roadmap that ensures you navigate the landscape safely and efficiently.

The bottom line

An often overlooked micronutrient, zinc is a powerhouse when it comes to improving our overall health. From strengthening our immune system and aiding protein and DNA synthesis to defending our senses of taste and smell and promoting wound healing, the importance of zinc in our diet cannot be understated.

The good news is that there are plenty of natural food sources rich in zinc, from plant-based options like cashews and quinoa to animal-based delicacies like crab and beef. While supplements may seem like a convenient alternative, it is essential to approach them with caution, making sure not to overload your system.

For more information on nutrition and how to achieve optimal health, be sure to follow Dr. Kellyann on social media and check out our blog.


Zinc | The source of nutrition | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

The role of zinc in cell growth and proliferation | Direct Science

The effectiveness of zinc supplementation in the treatment of taste disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials | NIH

Zinc in modulating wound healing | PMC

Zinc as a therapeutic agent in bone regeneration | PMC

The emerging role of zinc in depression and psychosis | PMC

Zinc | National Institute of Health

Dietary factors that influence zinc absorption | Direct Science



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