Zinc: sources, benefits, role and foods
What are the benefits of zinc?
Zinc is involved in the activity of more than 200 enzymes – molecules essential for chemical reactions in the body – especially those involved in protection against free radicals and those involved in protein synthesis. It is essential :
- to growth;
- to fabrics;
- to scarring;
- to muscle mass gain;
- and DNA repair.
It is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory necessary :
- to the vitality of the skin (it helps to fight against acne, psoriasis or dermatitis);
- to the vitality of nails and hair (it allows the synthesis of keratin and collagen);
- to immunity;
- the regulation of weight and blood sugar;
- reproduction (it promotes the production and mobility of sperm);
- and protection against cardiovascular / degenerative diseases and cancers.
Zinc is also involved in production and secretion of insulin, to the regulation of thyroid hormones, to the testosterone synthesis, and it increases the number of T-lymphocytes, key cells of immunity.
Which foods are richest in zinc?
Zinc is found in products of plant and animal origin, but in greater quantity and generally better assimilated in products of animal origin :
The foods highest in zinc are seafood, organ meats, meats and cheeses. Then come the plant sources of zinc: nuts, unrefined grains and pulses.
The veal, especially his liver, and the beef are good sources of zinc, iron, vitamins and protein. The content varies according to the pieces and can go up to 30% of the recommended intake for an adult. Regular, but not excessive consumption of meat helps ensure good growth.
Low in calories, seafood in particular oysters allow zinc stocks to be filled. The crab and lobster contain a high content of this micronutrient, as well as antioxidants and minerals. Adding a few portions of seafood to your plate from time to time contributes to the proper functioning of the body.
Nuts and seeds
Pumpkin seeds, cashews, pecans, peanuts, pistachios, and almonds are great appetite suppressants and are a good way to add an extra serving of zinc, as well as other minerals. like magnesium, in our diet.
One more reason to eat whole grains: they contain zinc, in addition to fiber. The pain, the rice, the corn in their unrefined version provide a significant amount of essential minerals.
The cheese (Morbier, Maroilles, Mont d’Or), but also the yogurt and the whole milk support healthy bones with calcium intake and contain small amounts of easily absorbable zinc by the body (because lactose facilitates its digestibility).
Chocolate (especially unsweetened cocoa powder) not only helps fight cardiovascular disease, reduces the risk of depression and hypertension, but it is also an excellent source of zinc.
How much zinc per day?
Zinc is present in very small quantities in the body (only 2 to 4 grams). The recommended nutritional intakes are 10 mg per day for a woman and 12 mg for a man. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should increase the dose to between 16 and 23 mg per day.
Should we supplement with zinc?
If we miss it, yes! A simple blood dosage (reimbursed by Social Security) allows us to find out. The people most at risk for a deficit are:
- the elderly (after 60 years the absorption rate decreases);
- pregnant women ;
- heavy drinkers.
We can also suspect a deficiency in case of repeated viral infections, skin problems, brittle hair and nails, growth problems.
Supplementation then consists of taking picolinate, bisglycinate or zinc citrate: 15 to 25 mg per day (preferably on an empty stomach to promote absorption). It should be stopped temporarily in case of bacterial infection because zinc serves as a growth factor for bacteria, both good and bad.
If you are a vegetarian
In the absence of meat, a strong supplier of this trace element, it is advisable to consume 50% more zinc than the rest of the population. In particular, we take care to regularly consume seafood and cheese with high zinc intakes.
The plant world is moderately provided with zinc and that of plants is only partially absorbed due to the presence of phytic acid. To decrease the amount of this acid, it is recommended to soak, ferment and sprout cereals, seeds and pulses before consuming them.