HAPPY BIRTHDAY HEATHER (RED FEATHER)!!!
For the past several weeks I have been exploring nutrition and supplements. You may recall my Myth Busting Monday post on cravings and what they mean. In that post I discussed the three most common micronutrient inadequacies, zinc, Vitamin D and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. I have addressed Vitamin D here and Omega 3 fatty acids here. Today I explore the role of zinc in a healthy diet.
Zinc is an essential mineral that is an important catalyst for certain biochemical processes and important structural element for a particular class of proteins called mettalloproteins.
It is estimated about 10% of the US population has inadequate zinc. Remember, a micronutrient deficiency causes a disease, and with zinc a deficiency causes hypogonadism in men, as well as mental lethargy, depression, and skin abnormalities. Inadequacy can lead to acne, insulin resistance, low testosterone and decreased mental health.
Before you rush out to supplement with zinc, remember the dose makes the poison and too much zinc can lead to zinc toxicity which can lead to severe GI distress e.g., nausea, vomiting, and because of its catalytic nature zinc toxicity can lead to a copper deficiency.
Foods that are rich in zinc include oysters, crab, shrimp, eggs, some seeds, and mushrooms. You can check out a nice collection of recipes with zinc rich foods from Precision Nutrition here.
Because zinc is lost through sweat, it can be an important micronutrient for athletes. If shellfish are not a regular part of your weekly diet, then you might consider a low dose zinc supplementation of 5-10mg. There are some caveats and considerations to note with zinc supplementation and you can get solid peer-reviewed research on that here.
Since only about 10% of the US population has a zinc inadequacy, before you pop some pills, try eating more zinc rich foods. Since most of the zinc rich foods are tasty sea creatures, you'll also get a healthy dose of other important micronutrients.
As always, if you have something you want me to explore, tell me in the comments and I'll do some digging.
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