Maybe you have heard of the mineral zinc before as an important ingredient in some cold remedies, but what many people don’t know is that this mineral is an essential part of your diet. The daily needed intake of zinc for women and men is 11 mg.
Zinc is responsible for a number of fundamental functions in our body:
• Promotes immune function to combat disease
• Accelerates the action of almost 100 particular body enzymes
• Supports healthy growth and development of the cells
• Ensures proper sense of smell and taste
Since our body doesn’t have the ability for naturally storing zinc, it is important to us to be sure we are getting the daily needed dose. The good thing is that zinc is naturally found in some foods and handy as a supplement.
Most of Americans get their zinc from poultry and meat. By serving, oysters contain the most zinc (76.7 mg- 6 medium oysters!). Other excellent sources of zinc are beans, nuts, lobster, crab, fortified breakfast cereals, whole grains and dairy products. Also, you can find zinc supplements at any pharmacy or store for natural foods. These supplements can hold several forms of zinc, such as zinc gluconate, zinc acetate and zinc sulfate – all great ways to establish your daily dose.
Most of Americans don’t have to be concerned about zinc deficiency. But there are two groups that should pay more attention – vegetarians and pregnant women. Vegetarians generally eat a lot of whole grains and legumes. These foods contain phytates which bind zinc and obstruct its absorption in the organism. This means the recommended daily intake of zinc for vegetarians may be 50% more than for non-vegetarians. Pregnant women should also be careful about zinc deficiency because of the high fetal need for zinc. Also, breast feeding can deplete zinc in the organism and therefore lactating women should get about 12 mg of zinc daily.
Zinc is an important mineral for men, which helps maintaining prostate health. Cancer in a man’s prostate is one of the principal causes of cancer deaths in men in America. Although the specific function of zinc for the prostate is unknown, here is what is stated about zinc:
• The human prostate stores the highest amount of zinc of any other soft tissue in the organism
• Cancerous prostates appear to have lower levels of zinc than healthy prostates
• Severe zinc deficiency may affect testosterone and lead to impotence
Be aware that excessive zinc intake may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and headaches. To fend off these side affects keep your zinc dose under 40 mg a day, which is the upper limit for both women and men.