Diet, Health

Zinc: Galvanize Your Body

By Michael Decker

2 minute read

In our ongoing series devoted to honoring Men’s Health Month, we are running articles on wellness.

Zinc is a common metallic element found in nature. If you eat a varied, healthy diet, you should be able to consume your recommended amounts. For men, the daily uptake should be about 11 mg.Despite its wide availability in foods many people, especially those over 60, do not take in enough of this essential mineral, with one study concluding that 35-45% of older adults fell well short of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) established by the USDA and health professionals. With the increasing popularity of veganism and other vegetarian diets, more adult males are at risk, as the most zinc rich foods are found in animal products.

Zinc plays a vital role in the body. It is required by numerous cellular activities and is an essential mineral for immune function, wound healing, protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, and is necessary to maintain correct working balances of the sense of smell and taste. In men, zinc is especially important for reproductive health, while in women it is crucial to maintain healthy pregnancy and fetal growth. Long-term low levels of zinc have been linked to immune deficiency, growth retardation, and appetite loss. Extreme cases have been linked via scientific studies to hair loss, diarrhea, weight loss, slow wound healing, and impotence.

It is estimated that more than one quarter of all people globally do not get sufficient zinc from their diet. Make sure you get your blood levels checked in consultation with your physician, who can offer a proper diet or supplement plan to rectify any deficiencies.

The most zinc rich foods include oysters, with a whopping 74 mg per 3 oz serving. A 3 oz serving of beef (7 mg), crab (6.5 mg), and lobster (3.4 mg) round out the top food choices to maintain healthy zinc levels.

Be aware of supplementation, as little data exists on the absorption mechanisms of products like zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate (common forms of zinc vitamin tablets) and we therefore do know the rate of availability of elemental zinc to the body via these vehicles. As zinc is a metal and zinc toxicity is a rare, but serious condition.

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