Zinc, an essential mineral, is needed for several processes of your body, especially during pregnancy, infancy and childhood. And the best zinc-enriched foods are meat and dairy. But, if you are vegan or a vegetarian, these two options are out of your list. So how do you get zinc otherwise? Well, there are other foods that contain zinc that you might not be aware of. In fact, to understand all about zinc, you first need to know some benefits of the same.
Health Benefits of Zinc:
Here are some zinc health benefits you must know in order to understand why you need to inculcate zinc-rich foods in your diet.
1. It Speeds Up Wound Healing:
Zinc is widely used in hospitals to treat burns, certain ulcers and many skin injuries as it can help with collagen synthesis, immune function and inflammatory response as well. So, if you have a zinc deficiency, it can lead to slower wound healing (1).
2. It Boosts Immunity:
Zinc can effectively strengthen your immune system by stimulating particular immune cells and reducing oxidative stress in your body (2). Taking zinc supplements regularly or eating foods that contain this mineral can significantly reduce the risk of infections while promoting immune response in older adults.
3. It May Reduce the Risk of Age-Related Diseases:
Certain age-related diseases like infection, pneumonia and macular degeneration can be avoided by maintaining a daily recommended dose of zinc, either by foods or with the help of supplements (3). As zinc helps relieve oxidative stress and improve immune response, it can help add a layer of protection to your body from infection.
4. It May Help Treat Acne:
Zinc for skin is quite beneficial as it can effectively treat acne by reducing inflammation in your skin (4) that inhibits the growth of P. acnes bacteria, suppressing oil gland activity. So if you have acne, start introducing sources of zinc to your diet and you will be able to see a difference.
Zinc-Rich Foods in India:
Now that you know enough about the health benefits of zinc, here are some sources of zinc that you should know of.
Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and hemp seeds are the kinds of seeds that will help you achieve a good amount of zinc in your body. Seeds are loaded with zinc and so, an ounce of pumpkin seeds can give you 2.2 milligrams of zinc (5) while sesame seeds contain 0.6 mg per tablespoon and 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds give you 3 mg of zinc. So, if you wish to introduce zinc for kids, make sure to add these seeds to their food items.
Did you know that zinc for hair can do wonders too? It can help with hair thickness and hair growth and so you must eat zinc-enriched foods like legumes and lentils. Half a cup of chickpeas has 1.3 mg of zinc, kidney beans contain 0.9 mg of zinc in the same serving (6). You can cook, sprout or ferment legumes as it can help cut down phytates and make it easier for your body to absorb this mineral
Just half a cup of oats can provide you with 1.5 mg of zinc and they're also known to reduce the risk of heart disease and other health issues as they can also give you other important vitamins and minerals (7).
Nuts like cashews and almonds also make it to the list of zinc-enriched foods as they are packed with protein, healthy fats, fiber and other vital vitamins and minerals. 1 ounce serving of cashews can give you 1.6 mg of zinc while dry-roasted almonds contain 0.9 mg of the same (8).
If you wish to experiment with your zinc-rich foods, you must try tofu, which is made from soybeans as it is one of the best sources of zinc. It contains calcium, protein, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Just half a cup serving of tofu can provide you with 1.98 mg of zinc (9) and since it absorbs flavours very well, a lot of vegans and vegetarians love to use tofu in place of meat for various recipes.
After getting to know about all the zinc-rich foods for vegetarians and vegans, you must be aware of zinc deficiency (10).
- Symptoms of zinc deficiency include impaired growth and development, skin rashes, chronic diarrhoea, behavioural issues, delayed sexual maturity and impaired wound healing.
- Zinc deficiency can occur in people with alcohol addictions, people with rare genetic mutations, breastfeeding infants whose mothers don't have enough zinc and people who take certain immune-suppressing medications.
- People who are at risk of developing zinc deficiency are: older infants who are breastfed exclusively, people with sickle cell anaemia, people who are malnourished, people with chronic kidney disease, people with gastrointestinal disease.
This is the reason why it is highly recommended to introduce foods that contain zinc in your daily diet. One of the sources of zinc can also be supplements. We urge you to try Fittify The Perfekt Gummies For Daily Energy Boost Multi Vitamins & Minerals. These gummies are packed with rich nutrients like vitamins A, C and zinc. So help yourself bridge the nutrition gap in your diet by taking these gummies every day.
Daily Recommended Dose of Zinc:
The daily recommended dose of zinc depends on two standard dosages. The low dosage which is 5-10 milligrams works wonders as a daily preventative. The high dosage of 25-45 milligrams works for the ones at risk of zinc deficiency.
Side Effects of Zinc:
Some of the side effects of zinc are as follows (10):
- When inhaled: Zinc can be unsafe if inhaled through the nose as it can cause permanent loss of smell. So, avoid using nose sprays that contain zinc as an ingredient.
- When applied to your skin: Zinc is usually safe, but if you use it on broken skin, it can cause tingling, itching, stinging and burning.
- When taken by mouth: If you take a zinc dose below 40 mg every day, it's likely safe. But it can get unsafe if you take it in larger doses over a short period of time. Taking a zinc dose that is more than 40 mg a day can decrease copper absorption in your body and can also result in symptoms like vomiting, stomach pain and other issues.
Now that you know that zinc is needed to maintain immune function, metabolism, DNA synthesis and growth, you must include zinc-rich foods in your diet. We've listed zinc-rich foods for vegetarians in the list above that will help you get your daily dose of this mineral. Remember, high doses of zinc can lead to dangerous side effects, so it's important to stick to the recommendations and only take zinc supplements when required.
Can zinc lower cholesterol?
Yes, zinc has the ability to reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides along with increasing HDL cholesterol levels.
How does zinc help you lose weight?
When you take zinc supplements with a restrictive calorie diet, it can reduce insulin resistance, appetite, and inflammatory markers in people who suffer from obesity.
What is the best time to take zinc?
If you are resorting to zinc supplements, they are most effective when taken 1 or 2 hours after meals. However, if zinc supplements cause stomach upset, you can take them with a meal. Just be sure to ask a doctor before starting zinc supplements with meals.
Is there anything you should avoid while taking zinc?
Don't mix zinc supplements with phosphorus, iron or copper supplements. It's better to space doses of these supplements with a 2-hour gap to get the full benefit out of each.
Who should not take zinc?
Zinc is mostly safe to be taken by everybody but in the recommended amounts. Those over 18 years of age should avoid taking more than 40 mg of zinc a day and 14-18 year-olds should avoid zinc more than 34 mg a day. Zinc is unsafe when used in high doses, so make sure to stick to the daily recommended dose of this mineral.
Why does a lack of zinc lead to hair loss?
Zinc deficiency can lead to changes in the protein structure of hair follicles. This results in the weakening of your hair's structural integrity which means your new hair will fall off quicker than it should.