Do you know if you are getting enough of the mineral zinc on a day-to-day basis?
Zinc has many useful functions in the human body. It helps to increase the effectiveness of the immune system. Sucking on zinc lozenges when you have a cold or feel one coming on can help to cut the average length of time that the virus is active in your body in half. It is believed to halt the replication of the cells of the cold.
It also helps to heal wounds, slow macular degeneration and can prevent the onset of many different health conditions including acne, Alzheimer’s epilepsy and psoriasis.
There is no doubt at all that zinc is important and very necessary for the health and functioning of the human body. Zinc deficiencies are rare but they do occur. This is because the body has no way to keep reserve stores of the mineral. For that reason it needs to constantly be replenished through the foods we eat.
The symptoms of a zinc deficiency include impaired immune system function, hair loss, diarrhea, loss of appetite, eye and skin lesions, weight loss, slow healing wounds, abnormal or slow growth in infants or children, and an unusual sense of smell or taste.
It is important however that you do not go to the opposite extreme and megadose on the mineral zinc. This can lead to zinc toxicity. This is most likely to occur if you take too many zinc supplements and /or if you consume too many cold or cough medicines that contain zinc.
The symptoms of a zinc overdose include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a bitter, metallic taste in the mouth.
The vast majority of zinc sources come from meat products. These sources include raw oysters, crab, tenderloin beef, and shrimp. Other sources include pumpkin seeds, crimini mushrooms and spinach. A daily intake of zinc is necessary to maintain a healthy level in the human body.
There are some people who are at a greater risk of not getting enough zinc in their diets than others. These include vegetarians and vegans, those who have gastrointestinal disorders and women who are pregnant and lactating. Babies who are still being breast fed over the age of seven months require more zinc than they can get from breast milk alone. People who suffer from sickle cell anemia have lower levels of zinc and require more as well.
Alcoholics are another group of people who require more of this mineral. The reason for this is because they either are unable to absorb the nutrient or they excrete a higher proportion of it in their urine.
In order to get more of this mineral into your daily diet you should eat as many unprocessed foods as possible and make sure that you don’t over-bake, over-boil or over-steam your food. You should eat lean meats. If you don’t eat a lot of meat then eating more beans is beneficial.
You should also limit the alcohol and coffee that you consume. If you are breast feeding your baby beyond six to seven months of age then feed your infant zinc-fortified formula to supplement the breast milk.