Better Body Clinical Nutrition
Thursday, January 12, 2023 9:36 AM
Most of us think about immune health when thinking of zinc. We have all seen and heard of zinc lozenges for a cold or flu.
And for good reason. Zinc is essential for a well-functioning immune system. But the benefits of this vital mineral go far beyond warding off the common cold.
In fact, it is vital to your brain - for learning and consolidating memories and helping to regulate your mood. It has also been found to boost heart health, reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer, support the gastrointestinal system, reduce leaky gut, enhance athletic performance, and even support hormonal health and fertility.
Unfortunately, most people are deficient of this crucial nutrient, or their intake is insufficient.
One of the reasons is a grain-rich diet.
Zinc binders in grains promote deficiency.
As it relates to zinc, a grain-based diet is rich in copper, lignan and phytates – three compounds that can dramatically reduce the bioavailability and absorption of zinc. And while many grain-based foods are fortified with zinc to improve their nutritional profile (on paper), research shows that zinc-fortified foods do not necessarily increase serum concentration of zinc in the body. Furthermore, the forms of zinc that are most often used – including zinc oxide and zinc sulfate – are inorganic forms of the mineral, which are poorly absorbed.
Are you living a zinc deficient lifestyle?
Excess consumption of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and other competing minerals (including calcium, iron, and copper) can all reduce zinc levels or increase your body’s requirement of it. Stress, infections, low stomach acid and certain medications can do the same thing.
Most absorbable food sources of zinc.
The best sources of zinc are the same foods are ancestors enjoyed, including grass-fed meats, wild seafood, and pastured poultry. Here’s a list with zinc-rich foods and amount per serving.
Oysters. 3oz. 154 mg
Beef Liver. 3oz. 4.5 mg
Beef. 4oz. 4 mg
Lamb. 4oz. 3.9 mg
Lobster. 3oz. 3.4 mg
Pork. 3oz. 2.9 mg
Duck Liver. 3oz. 2.7 mg
Chicken. 3oz. 2.4 mg
Chicken Livers 3oz. 2.1 mg
Turkey. 4oz. 2 mg
Shrimp. 4oz. 1.9 mg
Scallops. 4oz. 1.8 mg
In addition to these foods being high in zinc (and devoid of zinc-binding substances that reduce its absorption), they are also rich in a compound known to boost zinc absorption, PROTEIN!
An effective way to increase zinc absorption is to add a grass-fed whey protein shake to your meals. Whey protein is rich in cysteine and methionine – two amino acids that enhance zinc absorption.
If you think you may have a zinc deficiency, often correcting low stomach acid with betaine HCL can dramatically increase the absorption of zinc and other nutrient you get from your food.