You may have heard that zinc is a great supplement for shiny hair and long nails, but did you know the benefits of zinc go way beyond that? Zinc is one of the most essential minerals required for our overall health. As our body cannot make zinc on its own, it’s important we are getting enough.
So how does zinc help our body? Zinc plays an important role in various biochemical pathways from our organs to our nervous and reproductive systems and is important for wound healing. It is also a powerful antioxidant which helps to fight off free radicals and reduce early signs of ageing.
Boost your immune system:
Zinc is important for immune cell function and helps to keep your immune system strong. A zinc deficiency can lead to a weakened immune response which reduces the ability to eliminate pathogens. Being zinc deficient increases the susceptibility to illnesses, increases risk of infertility and low immunity. If you have ever felt run down, are frequently sick, suffer from hair loss or find yourself lacking concentration, you may be low on zinc.
Zinc can help reduce oxidative stress levels of certain inflammatory proteins in the body. Oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation which contributes to a number of chronic illnesses - including cancer, heart disease and mental decline.
Take a look at some of these food sources to ensure you’re absorbing a sufficient amount of zinc:
- Meat - especially red meat and lamb make an excellent source of zinc, along with various other important nutrients such as iron and B vitamins. A 100-gram serving of raw ground beef provides 44% of recommended daily value.
- Legumes - be it chickpeas, lentils or beans - legumes make a great zinc, calcium and protein source for vegans. It’s important to soak or sprout your legumes due to their phytate content which inhibits zinc absorption. By soaking legumes, it can increase its zinc bioavailability.
- Seeds - seeds make a great versatile food choice that is rich in zinc, iron and minerals and make a great vegan option. Seeds can be added onto just about anything, from sesame to flax and hemp seeds. A one-quarter cup serving of sesame seeds contains 25% of the daily recommended value and makes a delicious tahini option.
Other food sources that are naturally high in zinc include:
- Oysters - contain the highest food source of zinc.
- Cacao & Cocoa Dark chocolate
It's important to note that animal proteins contain higher amounts of zinc and are more easily absorbed by the body. If you are vegan or vegetarian it may be worth looking at supplements or an iron infusion.