Zinc is a mineral which, in about 2 g, is found mainly in red and white blood cells and muscles but is also distributed in other tissues. Even in these small quantities, it is essential and has essential bodily functions. For this reason, it is crucial to avoid its deficiency, which is relatively widespread due to a diet that is not very varied and rich in refined foods.
Foods rich in zinc are the primary sources to reach the daily requirement. However, it must be remembered that the body absorbs only 30% of the zinc in food. Let’s see, then, which foods are rich in zinc, why it is essential and what are the risks of a deficiency.
What Is Zinc, And What Is It For?
Zinc is an essential mineral for our health. In particular, it is a microelement that plays a fundamental role in synthesizing enzymes and proteins involved in the functioning of the metabolism and the hormonal system. Among these are:
- Functioning of the hormonal system (including hormones such as insulin and male and female sex hormones): zinc is an ally for fertility and sexual health. In particular, it stimulates the production of testosterone and the formation of sperm.
- Management of metabolism and blood insulin level.
- Body growth (essential for pregnant women and children).
- Protection of cell membranes.
- DNA synthesis.
- Strengthening of natural defenses.
- Protection of the health of the skin and genital organs.
- Regulation of enzymes involved in cellular respiration and antioxidants.
- Correct functioning of the nervous system.
The daily requirement varies from 2 to 10 mg. In particular, those who need a higher daily intake of zinc (10 mg) are children, adolescents and male adults, but also pregnant and breastfeeding women. This is due to the essential functions that the mineral performs, so foods with zinc should always be included in the diet.
Zinc: Properties And Functions
Zinc has antioxidant properties, strengthens the immune system and is helpful for the health of many organs and tissues. Here is a portion of its essential capabilities :
- In men, it promotes prostate health and stimulates testosterone.
- In women, it helps regulate estrogen.
- In children and adolescents, it regulates growth hormones.
- fights free radicals
- helps keep cholesterol low
- participates in the formation of insulin
- It helps the production of collagen and tissue regeneration, so it is beneficial for the skin in case of wounds and other ailments.
- It acts against stress and strengthens memory.
For this reason, zinc deficiency can cause various ailments, even serious ones.
Due to its hormone-regulating function, a zinc deficiency can lead to growth problems in children and adolescents, while in adult men, it can lead to low testosterone and sperm counts. In general, a zinc deficiency presents symptoms and complaints similar to what occurs with a lowered immune system :
- skin problems
- sleep disorders
- poor immunity
- hair loss.
To ensure a sufficient amount of this mineral, it is necessary to know its sources.
Foods Rich In Zinc: The List
In general, the primary sources are cereals, dried fruit, legumes and red meat, but zinc absorption is more excellent with foods of animal origin. Foods rich in zinc include:
- cashew nuts
- Pine nuts
- pumpkin seeds
- sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- chicken meat
- Lamb meat
- dairy products.