It is found in variety of foods, so meeting the daily recommended value of zinc is not much of a problem, especially if you eat meat and its products. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Zinc-
For infants up to 6 months of age - 2mg /day
For children of 7 months up to 3 years of age - 3mg /day
For children 4 to 8 years of age - 5mg /day
For children 9 to 13 years of age - 8mg /day
Boys /men above 13 years need 11mg /day of zinc
Girls /women above 13 years need 9mg /day of zinc
Pregnant women require 11mg (12mg for those below 19) and nursing mothers require 12mg (13mg for those below 19) per day of zinc. Health Benefits of Zinc
Zinc has many health benefits-
Zinc is very important for proper functioning of the immune system
Zinc treatment has shown to enhance the healing process of gastric ulcers
Zinc may help manage diabetes
Zinc may help manage or reduce symptoms of sickle cell anemia
Zinc treatment may be effective in the management of Wilson's disease
, an inherited disorder of copper metabolism where liver fails to excrete copper, resulting in chronic degenerative changes.
Although not very well researched, zinc can be a safe and effective alternative treatment for herpes types 1 and 2.
Topical or oral use of zinc seems to be a safe and effective treatment for acne vulgaris
Zinc may prove to be useful in treating ADHD
in older children with higher BMI. Studies found that zinc supplements reduced hyperactive, impulsive, and impaired socialization symptoms but did not reduce attention-deficiency symptoms in other children.
Cancer patients (head and neck cancers
) who received zinc supplementation along with radiotherapy had a better clinical outcome, according to some studies.
Shampoo containing 1 percent of zinc pyrithione helps reduce dandruff
in some people.
Zinc has been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels
in hemodialysis patients. Zinc may also improve the ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) to LDL (bad cholesterol).Zinc Deficiency
Zinc deficiency mostly occurs in vegetarians. This is because zinc is found mostly in non-vegetarian foods.
Symptoms and Signs of Zinc deficiency include-
Impaired immune function Loss of appetite
Diarrhea Hair loss
in severe cases
Delayed sexual maturation, impotence, and hypogonadism in males
Eye and skin lesions
Weight loss (sometimes)
Delayed healing of wounds
Many of these symptoms, however, are non-specific and are associated with number of health conditions. Unfortunately, there are no tests that can accurately assess the zinc status, and that is because zinc is distributed throughout the body. Zinc Taste Test (ZTT), a taste acuity test, is often resorted to but its validity has not yet been firmly established. Plasma and serum tests are also used to determine zinc deficiency in most countries.
Foods High in Zinc
Zinc is abundant in red meats
, certain seafood, and whole grains
. Because zinc is mainly located in the germ and bran portions of grains, as much as 80 percent of the total zinc is lost during milling, according to the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Here are Some Foods Considered Rich in Zinc:
*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for zinc is 15 mg for adults and children age 4 and older. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.Zinc Rich Foods for Men
Men need to have foods that are rich in zinc to maintain the testosterone (male hormone) levels. In men, zinc protects the prostate gland
from infection and from prostate inflammation. Zinc helps maintain sperm count
and mobility and normal levels of serum testosterone. Studies suggest that zinc supplements taken with antibiotics may be more effective than antibiotics alone in reducing pain, urinary symptoms, quality of life, and maximum urethra closure pressure for patients with chronic prostate inflammation. Zinc Rich Foods For Women
Zinc may help prevent osteoporosis
in women, especially those who have gone through menopause. Studies have shown that low levels of zinc in women are associated with lower bone density, so, eating zinc rich foods may help decrease bone loss in postmenopausal women. Also, zinc helps boost skin health, prevents dandruff and curbs hair loss. Zinc Rich Foods during Pregnancy
Zinc is vital for cell division and growth, so it is extremely important to consume zinc rich foods during pregnancy
to ensure adequate level of zinc. Zinc also helps to avoid congenital abnormalities and pre-term delivery and plays an important role in activating height, weight and bone development in infants and children.Zinc Rich Foods For Hair
It is important to consume zinc rich foods for healthy hair
. Studies have shown that low zinc levels can result in hair loss, as well as thin, dull and graying hair. Studies have however reported conflicting results regarding efficacy of zinc in treating alopecia.
Zinc Rich Foods for Vegetarians
Since zinc mostly occurs in white and red meats and its products, zinc levels may not be adequate in vegetarians. Phytates, which are commonly found in plant foods
, can reduce zinc absorption, and some researchers have suggested that this increases the zinc needs of vegetarians by up to 50 percent. However, vegetarians dont have to feel lost. Zinc levels can be easily maintained by consuming spinach
and a number of seeds like sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds. As an example, an ounce of pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, or squash seeds contains 2.9mg or 19 percent DV. Again half a cup of garbanzo beans or lentils will give you 1.3mg of zinc. So, it is important that you consume sufficient quantities of these foods.