What is zinc?
Zinc is a mineral that’s responsible for everything from your immune system to wound healing. In fact, taking in enough zinc on a regular basis is important because the body doesn’t store extra. People with gastrointestinal conditions, vegetarians and older adults are most at risk of being zinc deficient. Here’s everything you need to know about zinc and how to make sure you get enough of this important mineral.
Delayed or stunted growth
Some signs of zinc deficiency include not meeting certain growth standards and dysfunctions in the immune system, according to allergy and immunology doctor Boyan Hadjiev. He says studies following adolescent athletes, particularly gymnasts, have played a factor in understanding zinc deficiencies. “A combination of increased sweat loss with a decreased intake of certain foods” is something to look out for among athletes, says Dr Hadjiev, as these actions can contribute to zinc deficiency. High-zinc foods include seafood like oysters, lobster and crab; beef, chicken and pork; nuts like cashews and almonds; and legumes such as chickpeas and kidney beans.
Low energy and depression, as well as conditions such as ADD and ADHD, have also been linked to zinc deficiencies, according to Dr Hadjiev. He says on average men and women should not consume more than 40 milligrams of zinc per day, but dosages vary based on age and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Dietitian Lisa Moskovitz stresses eating a balanced diet to avoid a zinc deficiency. “A balanced diet, including plenty of vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats is the ticket for nourishing your body and maintaining proper health,” she says.
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