Zinc is a trace element (micronutrient or small molecule) essential to the proper functioning of the body’s reproductive system, nervous system, and immune response. Zinc is concentrated largely in muscles and bones, but is also found in skin cells, the adrenal glands, the pancreas, the prostate, sperm cells, and certain parts of the brain and the eye membrane.
Zinc is vital to growth and development.
What does zinc do?
Zinc is necessary for:
Recommended Dietary Allowances for Zinc (mg/day):
|Infants||0 to 6 months||2 mg (adequate intake)*|
|7 to 12 months||3mg|
|Children||Ages 1 to 3||3mg|
|Ages 4 to 8||5mg|
|Preteens||Ages 9 to 13||8mg|
|Men||Ages 14 to 18||11mg|
|Age 19 and older||11mg|
|Women||Ages 14 to 18||9mg|
|Age 19 and older||8mg|
|Pregnant women||Age 18 and under||12mg|
|Age 19 and older||11mg|
|Nursing mothers||Age 18 and under||13mg|
|Age 19 and older||12mg|
Source: www.passeportsante.net; Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc, 2002. This data reflects a consensus between Canadian and U.S. health authorities.
Lacking sufficient scientific evidence, authorities have established adequate intake (AI) amounts rather than recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for this age group. Adequate zinc intake is based on observed average intakes in North American babies in good health.
The body absorbs 15% to 40% of the zinc present in food. Foods rich in zinc include red meat, certain seafood such as oysters, whole grain products, nuts, legumes, and certain enriched cereals.
Food Sources for zinc:
|Raw or steamed Pacific oysters||100g (3.5oz) (2-4 medium)||16-33mg|
|Sautéed or braised baby beef liver||100g (3.5oz)||9-12mg|
|Braised beef shoulder, flank steak, or sirloin||100g (3.5oz)||7-11mg|
|Sautéed or braised beef or pork liver||100g (3.5oz)||6-7mg|
|Dehydrated or toasted sesame seeds||60ml (0.25 cup)||3mg|
|Tahini sesame seed butter (unroasted seeds)||30ml (2 tbsp.)||3mg|
|Canned clams||100g (3.5oz)(13 medium)||3mg|
|Boiled dark chicken meat||100g (3.5oz)||3mg|
|Dried shiitake mushrooms||10 mushrooms (36g)||3mg|
|Cooked legumes||250ml (1 cup)||2-3mg|
|Roasted or dehydrated whole pumpkin or squash seeds||60ml (0.25 cup)||2-3mg|
Source: www.passeportsante.net; Health Canada, Canadian Nutrient File, versions 2001b and 2005 and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
A slight zinc deficiency is common. Your zinc intake may be insufficient either because you don’t consume enough zinc or your body cannot manage to properly absorb it in the intestine. Deficiency occurs most often among:
Signs of zinc deficiency:
A zinc supplement may be effective in:
Individuals who could benefit from a zinc supplement:
Zinc supplements do not exhibit any significant toxicity in the generally recommended doses. They may, however, produce side effects if taken for an extended period of time.
Signs of excess zinc:
Natural health products or vitamin supplements:
Medication that may lead to zinc deficiency:
Zinc may decrease the absorption of certain antibiotics in the fluoroquinolone and tetracycline group*.
*Take every two hours.
***If you plan to take a zinc supplement, ask your pharmacist to help you choose the solution that’s best for you based on your health and any drugs you take.
Zn, Zinc acetate, Zinc citrate, Zinc gluconate, Zinc lactate, Zinc oxide, Zinc sulfate