Why Zinc is so Essential in Our Diet

A few months ago I blogged about how mineral deficiency can effect us and leading on from that  I recently learnt about how the mineral zinc depletes as we age and can have a serious effect on the health of our bodies.

A lack of zinc can have a serious effect on our immune system and can lead to an array of problems. One of the major problems being an increase of inflammation which in turn leads to illnesses such as, autoimmune disease,  diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

A recent study from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences looked at zinc deficiency in older people.

The researchers determined that 40% of elderly Americans are lacking enough zinc in their diets. Seeing as in New Zealand we also have similar diets to Americans this is an issue that we need to be aware of.

The researchers did a study using animals with similar biochemistry to humans and founds that if the animals were given 10 times their normal dietary requirement of zinc inflammation was reduced and restored back to the those of young animals.

The scientists doing the research also confirmed that a lack of zinc can result in DNA damage and systematically, inflammation. As inflammation is related to so many degenerative diseases it is therefore vital to ensure you are getting enough zinc in your diet and that your body is able to absorb it.

Zinc plays a vital role in cellular metabolism and is needed to act as a catalyst in over 100 enzymes in the body and is vital for wound healing. It also is critical for development and normal growth throughout pregnancy and  childhood.

It is important to take into account that the RDA for Zinc is the same for young adults as for seniors even though as you get older your body isn't able to absorb it as well.

With this in mind you will want to ensure you are eating foods that are providing you with plenty of zinc. Foods that are high in Zinc are often associated with meat, as veal, lamb and oysters all contain some of the highest levels of zinc. However garlic, pumpkin seeds, brocolli, and cacao are an excellent source, along with maca root powder.

It is important to note that if you are trying to get all your zinc from products that are grown or farmed in a conventional way then the soil they are grown or raised in may be depleted of minerals. Therefore the levels of zinc contained in the food may not be as high, that is why it is important to try and buy organic produce wherever possible.

Finally buying good quality organic produce will help to maximise the zinc found in your food it is also important to note that in order for zinc to work efficiently it needs vitamin A and vitamin E. I personally use spirulina to ensure I am getting adequate levels of zinc, as it contains zinc and both the vitamins that it works closely with.