Did you read my previous post on some of the possible symptoms of zinc deficiency, and how I could be deficient in this essential mineral myself?
Well, I promised to share what I found to be some useful food sources of zinc.
In general, it seems that the zinc found in animal food-sources is more easily absorbed by our body than zinc found in plant food-sources. Nonetheless, under normal circumstances, a person should be able to fulfill his or her daily needs for zinc even if he or she consumes meals comprising mainly of whole grains and beans, and less animal products.
If you are looking for foods that are rich in bio-available zinc, try animal foods such as shellfish, seafood, fish and red meats. If you are an oyster lover, you might be delighted to know that this seafood is one of the best (known) food sources of zinc. Dairy products and egg yolks actually also contain zinc, but the zinc in these foods may not be as well absorbed by the body.
If you are a vegetarian, useful food-sources of zinc that you can turn to include legumes (e.g. split beans), nuts (especially pecans and brazil nuts), seeds, oats, and whole wheat. Beets, cabbage, carrots and peas also contain zinc. A plant-food that is especially rich in zinc is pumpkin seed.
Here’s an important point to take note of when preparing your zinc-rich food(s). Zinc is water-soluble, which means it will dissolve in the cooking fluids when you prepare your food. So if you can, drink up the soup or broth used to cook your zinc-rich vegetables or meats.
And if foods don’t help enough, some common herbs that are rich in zinc include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, dandelion, fennel seed, milk thistle, parsley, rose hips, sage, and wild yam.
If you are thinking of zinc supplementation, 15 to 20 milligrams (mg) is the dosage range for general health support, according to N.D. Michael T Murray. This dosage range includes your intake of zinc through your daily diet. So if you consume about 10mg of zinc through your food (which the average American does), you could supplement with another 5 to 10mg of zinc. Consume your zinc supplements apart from high-fiber foods for best absorption.
However, if you are dealing with specific zinc-related health issues, you would require a higher dosage of zinc. In such instances, it is best to seek the help of a holistic health professional.
Fortunately, zinc is possibly one of the least toxic trace elements to the human body. While excessive amounts of zinc (above 150mg daily) can lead to copper-deficient anemia, reduced HDL-cholesterol and depressed immunity, you can hardly be acutely poisoned by zinc because the ingestion of toxic-levels of zinc (2g of zinc per kg of weight) usually induces vomiting.
1. Murray, Michael T., ND. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements: The Essential Guide for Improving Your Health Naturally. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 1996. Print.
Cindy L. TJOL is trained in Psychology, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has several years of experience writing on natural health on the internet. Follow her on her blog and read her other articles at All 4 Natural Health.com.