Zinc is found throughout the body with animal meats being the best sources to receive zinc. Those that do not receive enough zinc may be more likely to contract a cold or the flu as low zinc amounts are often correlated to the strength of the immune system.

Zinc benefits

Zinc is incredibly important with regard to the body's immune system. Zinc aids in protecting the body against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign agents. Zinc plays a role in keeping the skin healthy. Those experiencing skin sores may benefits from additional zinc amounts in their diet (only if low levels of zinc are detected).

Potential health benefits of zinc include: treating diarrhea in malnourished children (often in 3rd world countries), fighting the common cold, and age-related macular degeneration (an eye disease which causes vision loss over time).

Sources of zinc

The best sources of zinc usually come from high protein foods like beef, pork, lamb, chicken (dark meat contains more zinc than white meat), and fish. Other strong sources of zinc are nuts, whole grains, legumes, and yeast. Fruits and vegetables are poor sources of zinc as the human body cannot use this type of zinc. Those on a low-protein diet or those that follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle should take extra care to receive adequate amounts of zinc.

Recommended amounts

Set forth by the Institute of Medicine, the daily recommendations for zinc are below (some individuals may be placed on a plan that requires higher than normal amounts to manage a specific issue they may be experiencing).

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Reference Intakes for Zinc1
Age Amount
0-6 months 2mg/day
7-12 months 3mg/day
1-3 years 3mg/day
4-8 years 5mg/day
9-13 years 8mg/day
Males 14+ years 11mg/day
Females 14-18 years 9mg/day
Females 19+ years 8mg/day
Pregnant Females 14-18 years 12mg/day
Nursing Females 14-18 years 13mg/day
Pregnant Females 19+ years 11mg/day
Nursing Females 19+ years 12mg/day

Zinc side effects

When too much zinc is consumed (often from a supplement), one may experience diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. These symptoms should subside after 3-10 hours of supplement consumption.

Not receiving enough zinc may lead to a variety of symptoms:

  • High rate of infections
  • Little or no sexual hormone production (in males)
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inability to taste or smell
  • Sores on the skin
  • Below average growth rates in infants and children
  • Issues with night vision
  • Prolonged wound healing

1Zinc - http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-QuickFacts/

Zinc in diet - All Information - http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/002416all.htm

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