The Importance of Zinc
Zinc is a mineral that I leart so much about during my time studying nutrition. Ironically, I have recently found myself to be deficient in it after pregnancy, which I would put down to breastfeeding and stress. I noticed I had white spots on my finger nails, lowered immunity, hair loss and anxiety. As soon as I started supplementing with it, I noticed a huge improvement with my symptoms. Every single tissue in our body needs zinc, it plays a direct role in cell division, it is an antioxidant and helps to maintain your hormone levels. It is often referred to as the ‘beauty mineral’ because it is so important for skin health. Zinc is stored in our tissues, muscles, bones and organs such as the kidneys, skin, pancreas and adrenal glands. It is associated with several hundred enzyme systems in the body. It is the most important mineral in terms of proper immune function. Zinc is essential for multiple body functions including, skin health, hair growth, gut health, immune function, wound healing, metabolism and absorption of nutrients, eye health, concentration, taste and smell.
Some signs that you could have a zinc deficiency include white spots of finger nails, anxiety and depression, hair loss, acne, loss of appetite, loss of smell or taste, low libido, poor memory, delayed growth (in children), infertility, and frequent cold and infections. If you do have a cold or flu, zinc can be used to shorten the duration of illness. Pregnancy and nursing women are at a higher risk of becoming zinc deficient, people with gut issues and gastrointestinal diseases.
It is important to be eating enough foods that are rich in zinc, and/or supplementing with this mineral. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, tahini, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, beans, nuts, beef, eggs, and leafy green vegetables. Adults need to be having between 8-11 mg of zinc per day, pregnant and breastfeeding women should be aiming to have more. If you are not eating enough foods that are rich in zinc, a multi vitamin can help increase your zinc intake.