Zinc is one of the most important minerals for your immune system. Although it may not get as much air time as say, vitamin C or calcium, zinc is responsible for a lot of important functions in your body. It helps maintain your sense of taste and smell, strengthens your immune system, promotes wound healing and can even improve eye health. Since your body can’t produce or store zinc, you need to eat foods high in the mineral on a regular basis. If you’re looking for natural zinc deficiency remedies, we’ve curated a list of 10 foods to add your weekly meal plan!
What Is a Zinc Deficiency?
Zinc is an essential mineral your body needs to function properly. Although your body doesn’t need a large amount of zinc, if it doesn’t have the zinc it needs, it leads to a deficiency. Zinc helps the production of hormones, supports the growth and repair of muscles and tissues, maintains your immunity and regulates digestion. It’s essential for growth and development through pregnancy, childhood and adolescence. It also plays a beneficial role in your immune system and wound healing, and can make the common cold less severe.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Zinc Deficiency?
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of sense of taste or smell
- Lack of alertness
- Open sores on the skin
- Wounds that won’t heal
- Delayed growth in children
- Impaired immune function
- Psychological disorders such as depression
- Hair loss
- Acne or rashes
What Causes a Zinc Deficiency?
The most common cause of a zinc deficiency is inadequate dietary intakes of the mineral. Since your body doesn’t store zinc, getting enough of the mineral from food is key to preventing a deficiency. Along with not getting enough zinc through your diet, a zinc deficiency can also happen through losing excess amounts of zinc from the body, such as through poor absorption, or due to a chronic condition.
If you have any of the following chronic conditions, you may be more likely to experience a zinc deficiency:
- Alcohol addiction
- Celiac disease
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic kidney or liver disease
- Chron’s disease
- Pancreatic disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Ulcerative colitis
You may also be more prone to a zinc deficiency if you’re vegetarian, since the body breaks down zinc found in meats more efficiently. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding can also develop a zinc deficiency because their baby requires zinc and can only get it from them. This can leave the mother’s body with lower amounts of zinc.
Natural Zinc Deficiency Remedies: 10 Foods to Eat!
Oysters contain an especially high concentration of zinc per serving. Just one oyster contains 50% of the recommended amount of zinc and 3 ounces of oysters contains 74 mg of zinc, which is substantially more than an adult needs to consume per day. Oysters are also low in calories and high in other valuable minerals and vitamins like vitamin B12 and selenium.
2. Lobster and Crab
If you’re a seafood lover, you’re in luck because lobster and crab are also high in zinc. 3 ounces of cooked Alaskan king crab contains 59% and a small steamed or boiled lobster has 42% of the recommended daily intake.
3. Red Meat and Poultry
Red meat is a particularly great source of zinc. A 100 gram serving of raw ground beef contains 44% daily value, and it also offers protein, iron and B vitamins. Pork and chicken also provide a good dose of zinc. For the most nutritious cuts, choose lean meats like 90% lean beef, pork tenderloin and boneless chicken breasts.
Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and black beans also provide a decent amount of zinc. They’re great low fat, high protein options that are packed with vitamins and minerals as well as lots of dietary fibre. Increase your intake of foods like hummus, edamame, and black beans to add extra zinc to your diet.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are a good source of zinc. They’ve been shown to be a key food in maintaining health in post-menopausal women and are also known to promote your mental health. A one cup serving of pumpkin seeds contains 44% of the recommended daily intake of zinc, and they also contain antioxidants, polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium and vitamin B2.
6. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are rich in zinc, with one ounce containing 34% daily value. Not only that, they’re also an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation and keep your cardiovascular system strong.
If you’re looking to add more zinc to your diet, start your day with a bowl of oatmeal. Half a cup of oats contains 1.3mg of zinc, which is 16% of the daily recommended intake. Oats are also high in antioxidants, can improve blood sugar control, and contain a powerful soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Cashews are a healthy and tasty way to increase your zinc intake throughout the day. A one-ounce handful of cashews offers 14% daily value and can help with weight maintenance because they keep you fuller and help curb food cravings. Cashews are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and are high in protein. They help fight heart disease, reduce inflammation and support healthy brain function.
9. Cocoa Powder
One ounce of cocoa powder contains 13% of your daily recommended intake of zinc. It’s also a great source of the antioxidants epicatechin and catechin, which help prevent inflammation and disease. Cocoa powder also contains flavonoids, which help improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
10. Greek Yogurt
Plain Greek yogurt provides a good dose of zinc, with one cup having about 10% daily value. Yogurt is great for your gut, since it’s filled with probiotics. It supports healthy digestion, boosts the immune system, promotes cardiovascular health and regulates your mood.
If you’re looking for zinc deficiency remedies, make sure you’re upping your zinc intake with these 10 foods.