I am such a sucker for nerdy nutrition jokes. This was a great one I learned from my Therapeutic supplement instructor Josh Digitalis about zinc and its importance for mental function and sexual function.
There are a lot of nutrients that are important but Zinc is definitely on the top of the list.
Zinc is necessary in over 300 enzymatic reactions all over the body! Why that matters? Enzymes make things happen in the body. Everything in fact. So even if you are slightly low in zinc there can be far reaching effects including skin problems, lowered immunity, reproductive challenges, slower wound healing, decreased vision, smell, taste, thinking power, and more.
Some Beneficial effects of optimal zinc
- Immune Function
- Wound Healing
- Sensory Function
- Sexual Function
- Skin Health
Possible Symptoms of zinc deficiency
Skin changes, diarrhea, hair loss, mental disturbances, recurrent infections, poor wound healing, decreased sense of smell, decreased sense of taste, acne, eczema, psoriasis
Where do I get Zinc from?
Getting our nutrients from food sources is always the best place to start. Our body recognizes vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in foods and knows what to do with them. Eating some of these foods every day is best. Some of the foods highest in zinc include
- Vegetable sources- Spinach, Asparagus, crimini and shiitake mushrooms, beet greens, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, swish chard, summer squash, Ginger, green beans
- Nuts/seeds- Sesame Seeds, Pumpkins seeds, cashews, walnuts, Pecans
- Legumes and grains- Garbanzo beans, Lentils, quinoa, oats, split peas, black beans
- Animal protein- Beef, shrimp, turkey, lamb, oysters
Remember, it is important to make sure you are digesting and absorbing the foods you are eating as well as eating them. An easy place to start to boost digestion is to smell your food, eat while you are calm and relaxed, and chew until your food is liquid. Your body will thank you!
What if I need to supplement?
Supplementing is important for many people to get deficiencies to sufficiencies. There are several reasons people might need to supplement today including poor digestion/absorption, poor diet, lower nutrients in foods today, increased stress, if you are on the birth control pill, have an under functioning immune system, and more. In this case it is best to use a zinc that is chelated so they are absorbed easily in the gut. Zinc acetate, citrate, glycerate, and glycinate are more absorbable forms of zinc. Zinc sulfate is less absorbable and should be avoided for optimal assimilation. Zinc Carnosine is best for gastrointestinal support.
- A standard maintenance dose of zinc is 15-20mg per day
- A therapeutic dose of zinc depends on the person and their needs but is around 30-100 mg per day
One thing we love to do in our house when we feel a sore throat or cough coming on is to suck on a zinc lozenge a few times during the day. Of course a cup of warm peppermint tea, a hot ginger/lemon zinger, and bone broth are enjoyed too, but that is for another post:)
This post is NOT a substitute for medical care by your medical provider and is instead meant for educational purposes.
RECIPE- Ginger Candied Pecans
This is a delicious fall treat loaded with Zinc (From Taste of Home)! Enjoy
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
- 6 slices fresh ginger root (cut from a 1-1/2-inch piece)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (optional)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3/4 pound pecan halves (about 3 cups)
- Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a foil-lined 15x10x1-in. baking pan. In a small saucepan, combine the first seven ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 2-3 minutes or until syrupy, stirring occasionally. Strain and discard ginger slices.
- Place pecans in a large bowl; drizzle with syrup mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to prepared pan. Roast 20-25 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
- Bauman, Ed. Bauman Institute. Holistic Nutrition. 2018
- Digitalis, Josh. Therapeutic Nutrition and Supplements in Practice. 2021
Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP
Janel is a board certified holistic nutritionist and certified functional medicine nutritionist. Janel helps people understand their body so they can use food, supplements, herbs and lifestyle to optimize their health. Learn more about Janel here. Janel works one on one with people but she loves group wellness (see below)!