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Health Benefits Associated with Consuming Zinc in Your Diet

I like to write about health and how to stay healthy by making smart decisions.

One of the effects of the coronavirus COVID19 virus pandemic has been the growing awareness of zinc’s role in keeping the human immune system running at an optimal level to prevent and treat viral infections such as COVID19, as well as prevention and treatment of illnesses associated with bacterial and parasite infections.

Zinc is not just another trace metal that the body uses to perform functions on a cellular level. It is a crucial building block that is used by the body to keep the human immune system in good working order and for many other critical bodily functions.

Zinc Helps The Immune System Protect Your Body From Germs

Zinc plays an important role in maintaining the human immune system at peak capacity to protect against illnesses.

Zinc plays an important role in maintaining the human immune system at peak capacity to protect against illnesses.

Zinc Bolsters the Human Immune System To Prevent Illnesses

Zinc plays a critical role in the development and functioning of the human immune system cells. Maintaining zinc at an adequate level within your body is important to ensure your immune system is running at peak efficiency and can respond effectively to threats that you constantly encounter from bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can make you sick if they take hold within your body.

While it has been established that zinc lozenges shorten the duration of colds, zinc’s importance to the human immune system’s ability to prevent and treat diseases was thrust into the mainstream by the SARS-CoV-2 global virus pandemic and its associated disease known as COVID19. The bottom line is, ensuring adequate zinc intake is crucial to boost the immune system to avoid catching a wide variety of illnesses and to maintain a number of bodily functions.

The following are some of the health benefits associated with maintaining zinc at adequate levels within the body.

  • Zinc plays an important role in cell function within the body which boosts the immune system by activating T-cells and helps the body heal wounds.
  • It is critical for children and teenagers to consume foods that contain zinc since maintaining an adequate level of zinc in the bloodstream plays an important role in ensuring growth occurs during high growth years. A deficiency of zinc is one of the causes of stunted growth.
  • It is a strong anti-oxidant that removes free radicals and reduces oxidative stress.
  • It helps the body avoid developing certain cancers, especially prostate and breast cancer.
  • It improves eye health and helps maintain good vision.
  • It works with the body to balance hormones.
  • Zinc binds to insulin and assists with the regulation of blood sugar levels.
  • It prevents acne pimples.

Zinc Is an Essential Nutrient That Can Be Obtained From Many Foods

Zinc, which is a vital nutrient, can be obtained from many different kinds of food.

Zinc, which is a vital nutrient, can be obtained from many different kinds of food.

Foods That Are Good Sources of Zinc

Given its ability bolster the human immune system against a wide variety of health threats from the common cold to more serious illnesses like COVID19 and the flu, it’s a good idea to assess whether you are getting enough zinc from your diet, and if not, to make some adjustments to your diet.

The following are some examples of foods that are rich in zinc. Try to work these foods into your diet. Since many of the foods that contain the highest concentrations of zinc are meats, it is important that vegetarians or those that rarely eat meat to ensure they consume an adequate amount of non-meat based foods that contain zinc.

Some sources of zinc such as nuts, legumes, whole grains, and beans also have a natural compound called phytic acid (phytate) that binds with zinc preventing it from being absorbed by the digestive system. For this reason, it's a good idea to mix other sources of zinc into your diet to ensure you are receiving an adequate amount of zinc. To ensure you absorb zinc from nuts, legumes, whole grains, and beans include them in a cooked meal since cooking foods reduces the amount of phytic acid in these sources of zinc.

  • Beef is one of the best sources of zinc, as the red meat is packed with zinc.
  • Chicken provides a considerable amount of zinc.
  • Pork Chops are another animal meat that contains zinc.
  • Nuts and Legumes (in moderation or cooked due to phytic acid) such as but not limited to almonds, peanuts, cashews, pine nuts, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, are rich in zinc and other important minerals that the body needs (cashews are a particularly good source of zinc).
  • Shellfish such as but not limited to oysters, crab, prawns, mussels, shrimp great sources of zinc (while shellfish are high in zinc, they may accumulate toxic metals and compounds, and are therefore not the best choice to obtain zinc).
  • Dairy Products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Whole Grains (in moderation or cooked due to phytic acid) such as whole wheat flour, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice.
  • Beans (in moderation or cooked due to phytic acid)
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Green Peas
  • Spinach

Foods With High Concentrations of Zinc

Common foods that contain zinc.

Common foods that contain zinc.

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and Upper Limit (UL) for Zinc Consumption

The following is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of zinc and the daily Upper Limit (UL) that is considered safe for consumption of zinc on a daily basis. Most people can obtain the RDA of zinc through their diet, as many common foods provide zinc. Taking a supplement is not necessary for most people.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of zinc and the daily Upper Limit (UL) that is considered safe for consumption of zinc on a daily basis.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of zinc and the daily Upper Limit (UL) that is considered safe for consumption of zinc on a daily basis.

Zinc Supplements

While most people do not need zinc supplements since obtaining the RDA of zinc from one’s diet is not difficult given the many types of foods that contain zinc, there might be times when one may want to supplement their zinc intake by ingesting a supplement that contains zinc. This would include times when one is taking preventative measures to avoid illness or coming down with or experiencing an illness.

It is very important to make sure that zinc obtained from diet and supplementation does not exceed the daily Upper Limit for your age, sex, and condition. This can be difficult to ensure since so many foods contain zinc. Signs that your intake of zinc is exceeding the daily Upper Limit include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and even flu-like symptoms. That’s right, consuming too much zinc can actually make you feel sick and should be avoided. Listen to what your body is telling you. Everything in moderation, including zinc intake.

If you have a medical condition or are taking medication, it is best to avoid zinc supplementation unless directed to do so by a medical doctor that understands your medical history and medications.

Zinc Consumption Poll

The Benefits of Zinc

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 John Coviello

Comments

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 29, 2020:

Thanks for this information. I will now be more conscious of including food rich in zinc in my diet.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 28, 2020:

I was aware of some benefits from zinc, but you have added to my knowledge in this useful article.