Did you know that over 100 different enzymatic processes in your body require zinc in order to take place? Zinc is also an essential part of your immune system, needed for healthy cells, is important in wound healing and required for growth in pregnancy, childhood and the teenage years. The structure and function of cells require zinc, which is why adequate levels may help reduce stretch marks post-delivery. It is also partly responsible for our taste and smell!
Yet, why do so many Americans come up short when it comes to this great nutrient? Well, we don’t really have the ability to store it and our bodies are unable to make it internally, therefore we must absorb it from our diet everyday.
Zinc is present in many foods such as oysters, beef, crab, chicken, pork, turkey, fortified cereals, baked beans, cashews, and many others, however its absorption can be easily blocked by phytates.
A phytate is commonly found in soy products, wheat flour, whole wheat bread, oats, and some beans. If you eat your zinc food with a phytate then you don’t absorb all of its health benefits. Additionally, if you experience regular intestinal upset including diarrhea, you are losing out on your zinc.
The daily need is about 6-12mg depending on your age, however many women do not even ingest 2mg per day. Before you run out and buy that supplement, know that zinc needs to be balanced with a little bit of copper and don’t do more than 25mg per day to play it safe unless you have talked with your doctor.