~ Smriti Jha
Zinc, the trace element has an endless role in the human body. It helps stimulate the biochemical activity of at least 100 different enzymes, and also plays a critical role in our immunity. Its deficiency can bring several physiological and psychological disorders. If you too feel low in body immunity, develop symptoms like diarrhea, low appetite, hair loss, skin lesions: meet your Doctor and be sure if it is because of the zinc deficiency.
Zinc nutritional status is difficult to measure adequately using laboratory tests due to its distribution throughout the body as a component of various proteins and nucleic acids. Here are some dietary tips that help you to maintain good Zinc level in the body.
- Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Restrict saturated and trans fats intake.
- Whole grains and milk products are good sources of zinc.
- Avoid eating foods with added sugars, and sodium.
- There are ready-to-eat breakfast cereals fortified with zinc available in the market.
- Eat protein-rich foods like seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products.
- Non-veg sources like Oysters, red meat, and poultry are excellent sources of zinc. Among vegetarians- Baked beans, chickpeas, and nuts like cashews and almonds contain a fair amount of zinc.
Vegetarians should worry more?
The bioavailability of zinc in vegetarian food is lower than non-vegetarian food. Also, the vegetarians consume more of the legumes and whole grains, which contain phytates that bind zinc and inhibit its absorption. Here, the method of Sprouting will be a great help.
The best way to enhance the zinc in diet is by changing the cooking techniques. For example, soaking beans, and grains in water for several hours before cooking will help in reducing the binding of zinc with phytates.
Who are at risk?
- Approximately 30%–50% of alcoholics have low zinc status because ethanol consumption decreases intestinal absorption of zinc and increases urinary zinc excretion.
- Pregnant women, particularly those starting their pregnancy with marginal zinc status, are at increased risk of becoming zinc insufficient due, in part, to high fetal requirements for zinc.
- Those who are struggling with digestive disorders, and diseases like chronic liver disease, chronic renal disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, malignancy, and other chronic illnesses.
People with low zinc levels have shown reduced lymphocyte that hampers the immunity level. This can be corrected by eating zinc-rich diet and zinc supplementation.
Dietary supplements contain several forms of zinc and, are available in the form of zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate with different percentage of elemental zinc. For example, approximately 23% of zinc sulfate consists of elemental zinc; thus, 220 mg of zinc sulfate contains 50 mg of elemental zinc
Research has not determined whether differences exist among forms of zinc in absorption, bioavailability, or tolerability.
Before taking supplements, take prior advice of your Doctor as Zinc toxicity may cause serious health threats.