The essential health benefits of Zinc in your diet

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Zinc is an essential mineral that your body cannot live without. 

In fact, after iron, zinc is the second most common trace mineral found in the body.  And interestingly, it is also one of the most abundant elements in the earth’s crust.

Zinc is found in the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat and in the soil. 

It helps your health in many important ways, from protecting your skin and hair, to to building proteins, creating DNA, healing damaged tissue and supporting a healthy immune system.  It is even known to be very beneficial in reducing risk of certain cancers.

Your body does not make Zinc on its own, which means you need to get it from outside sources to receive the health benefit.

Here, we highlight some of the most important health benefits of zinc and share with you the main whole foods you need to include in your diet to ensure you're getting enough of this vital mineral.

1. Improves Men's Prostate Health 

One of the most significant health benefits of zinc is the impact it can have on prostate health in men.

Zinc is concentrated more highly in the prostate than in any other human tissue, and low levels of zinc in this gland relate to a higher risk of prostate cancer.

Healthcare practitioners use zinc in therapeutic ways to help reduce prostate size, however it is known that zinc from whole foods is more effective than isolated zinc or zinc supplements.

In addition to the zinc-rich foods we will share with you here, pumpkin seeds are an especially good source and can help directly nourish the prostate gland, whilst also ensuring that levels of testosterone remain at peak performance.

Bee pollen is also a food that can assist men with enlarged prostate or prostatitis. In double-blind studies and long-term treatments, urological researchers reported that bee pollen reduced enlarged prostates in 53% of men with severe and chronic symptoms of prostatitis.

Many minerals are thought to be essential for good reproductive health and zinc is high on that list. 

2. Improves Skin, Nail and Hair Health

Zinc is also a crucial vitamin for the health of your skin, hair and nails.

Thinning hair, abnormal hair texture or colour, or hair loss can be a sign of zinc deficiency, as can pale white nails.

Zinc is also used to help speed wound healing, so if you’re not getting enough zinc it could take longer for skin related injuries to disappear.

If you have skin issues, a combination of vitamins C, E, beta carotene and zinc are known to be important for healing damaged tissue.  In fact, pregnant women often use zinc to help reduce stretch marks during and post pregnancy.

Learn more in Natural Remedies for Stretch Marks & Scars.

Zinc is also a natural sunscreen that can help protect your skin when applied topically. While getting sun exposure is both necessary and healthy to maintain vitamin D levels and to keep you healthy and happy, overdoing it can cause skin damage.

For a natural, chemical-free sunscreen, try our handcrafted Sun Loves Me for hydrating sun protection that includes zinc.

3. Increases Bone Density

Another of the health benefits of zinc rich foods is the role it can play in benefiting bone mineral density.

Weak, brittle bones and chronic degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis, can be a problem for both men and women over time, if you don't pay attention to your diet and lifestyle choices.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a clear correlation between low dietary intake of zinc, low blood levels of this important trace mineral and bone density.

For this reason, getting enough zinc is important to help protect your bones as you age and to prevent fractures and degenerative bone diseases. 

Choose Whole Foods Over Supplements

Like anything else, seasonal, locally sourced whole fresh food is better than any supplement, because of the living enzymes and signals that whole food nutrients send to the cells.

This is particularly true with zinc, because zinc supplements in high doses can interfere with the absorption of calcium and copper and can actually compromise heart function.

Some of the best whole plant food sources of zinc include:

  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Bee Pollen
  • Beans
  • Cashews
  • Chickpeas
  •  Mushrooms
  •  Sunflower seeds
  •  Soy Beans
  •  Wheat germ
  •  Maple syrup
  •  Whole grains
  •  Spinach
  •  Oats

Try to eat at least one high zinc food per day to ensure you’re getting enough from your diet.

It’s hard to overdo your zinc intake when you’re getting it from natural, whole foods.  So if your diet is rich in whole plant foods, it’s likely you’re getting as much zinc as you need everyday.

Lean more in The Truth About Vitamin Supplements.

Other Key Benefits of Zinc

The health benefits of zinc don’t end with your bones, hair, teeth and nails.

In fact, there are even more reasons you should be getting plenty of zinc that are worth mentioning, which include the following:

  •  Body odour could be a sign you’re not getting enough zinc in your diet
  •  Zinc is essential for digestion and metabolism
  •  Zinc can improve libido
  •  Zinc is vital for repelling pathogens and viruses, particularly during the flu season
  •  Zinc can assist in reducing risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other permanent conditions
  •  Zinc Helps promote good eyesight

The Main Takeaway

Zinc is an essential nutrient that your body can’t produce or store, which means you need to ensure you consume enough zinc in the food you eat.

The best sources of zinc are seasonal whole plant foods, so you should make a point of including a number of the foods recommended here into your weekly diet.

Severe zinc deficiency is quite rare, but even a moderate zinc deficiency can quickly start to have adverse effects on your health, which is generally noticed by weak immunity and a susceptibly to colds, flu and feeling run down.

You might also have a zinc deficiency if you’re noticing hair loss, diarrhoea, dry skin, slow healing, decreased appetite and mood swings.

The health benefits of zinc are too important to ignore, so be sure to be very conscious of zinc rich foods when you do your weekly shop for fresh produce and you won't have to worry about being deficient in this vital mineral.

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