Zinc is one of the most important nutrients we often fail to get enough of in our regular diets.
The number of processes in the human body where Zinc is involved is staggering! Zinc is used in the creation of hundreds of enzymes.
You may recall from previous blogs that enzymes are the "facilitators" which make our body function. They are critical for a range of functions, including digestion, brain functions, immune system functions, reproduction (especially in men) and so much more.
But because it's such a critical element, it tends to get used up a lot more when are body systems are under stress.
What sort of stress creates a rise in Zinc consumption? It can range from physical stress (training), to sleep deprivation, exhaustion, exposure to viruses and bacteria, environmental toxins (e.g. beauty products, air quality, toxic mold), hormonal stress (anxiety, emotional) and more.
As we consume more and more Zinc, we obviously need to get more from our food to compensate, which is why Zinc deficiencies are so common.
So what foods are the richest in Zinc?
Here is a list of the top 5 (ranked by % of Zinc and adjusted for portion size):
- Sesame Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
If you want the full list, you can find it here.
Always remember that the QUALITY of the food matters: eating regular grain-fed supermarket beef or lamb is VERY different than eating grass-fed organic meat. The differences between the two are not limited to micronutrient content (such as zinc). Differences include Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio (much higher in grass-fed), inflammatory compounds and more.
When it comes to seeds and grains, remember that plants get their nutrients from the ground. So always make sure you're buying the best and freshest ingredients, and make sure you're not getting exposed to pesticides and herbicides (which means: eat organic as often as you can).
The benefits of Zinc are not just limited to overall health: as this study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows, supplementing with Zinc helps reduce DNA damage!
DNA is damage to your genetic code. Such damage is often linked to pre-mature ageing as well as a variety of diseases, including cancer and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinsons.
So can we get enough Zinc from food then?
Based on my research, no.
The reason I say that is because (i) our modern lifestyles are causing us to consume a lot more Zinc when compared to our ancestors, and (ii) the food we eat doesn't come from the best sources in the world.
In fact, even if we're eating organic all the time, farmers tend to replant the same land over and over again, leading to the land itself becoming depleted in minerals such as Zinc. The result is that the plants end up with less Zinc, and the animals which eat those plants get less Zinc too.
This is why Zinc is part of my "daily" supplement regime: I take 50mg daily, with food (and make sure you don't take it at the same time as your Magnesium, another essential nutrient).
I talked about Zinc (and other important supplements) in my free supplement guide, which you can get below.
Any questions / comments, please post below.