Learn All About Zinc | Healthy Foods


Zinc is an essential trace element that plays an important role in growth and development, immune health, neurological function and reproduction. Studies have also found that zinc may have significant therapeutic benefits for age-related degenerative diseases.

Zinc deficiency appears to play an important role in the onset of many diseases, including autoimmune diseases. Research has also shown a link between depression and low zinc levels in the blood. Zinc deficiency can occur in the elderly, vegetarians, pregnant women, and people who drink too much alcohol.

Like magnesium, zinc is used as a cofactor by many key enzymes. (This “cofactor” status of zinc means that zinc is directly involved in the activity of the enzyme.) In fact, more than 300 zinc-dependent enzymes are currently known. Even a slight dietary deficiency of zinc can have profound health effects. Immunity, reproduction, skin health and vision are just some of the areas that may be affected. The recommended daily intake for adults is 11 mg.

Zinc and copper overlap in transport and metabolism, and either can lead to health deficiencies. It’s important not to oversupply or eat foods high in zinc or copper, and to maintain a delicate balance between the two. High zinc intake can impair copper absorption. In turn, reduced copper absorption can lead to anemia and fatigue. A simple blood test can determine your needs. I see a lot of clients taking excessively high doses of zinc over a long period of time. This is usually unnecessary.

Food sources of zinc in order of quality sources:

Oysters – 1 oz has 8-9 mg

Grass-Fed Beef – 4 mg in 4 oz

Lamb – 4 oz has 3.87 mg

Turkey, dark meat – 3 mg in 3 ounces

Pumpkin seeds – ¼ cup has 2.52 mg

Wild Shrimp – 4 oz has 1.85 mg

Scallops – 4 oz has 1.76 mg

Spinach – 1 cup contains 1.37 mg

Asparagus – 1 cup contains 1.08 mg

Shiitake mushrooms – ½ cup contains 0.96 mg

Cremini mushrooms – 1 cup contains 0.79 mg

If you are not consuming the above foods in this amount, it may be wise to supplement in small doses of 11-15 mg per day. The tolerable upper intake (UL) for zinc set by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences is 40 mg per day. As mentioned above, a good balance of zinc and copper in food may help offset possible problems, even if zinc intake often exceeds the UL. Work with me or attend one of my upcoming cooking classes on June 25th or August 20th to learn more about your nutritional needs. Visit www.UnlockBetterHealth.com for more information.


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