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Why Zinc is important and how to get more of it.

Before taking biochemistry in medical school, whenever zinc popped into my mind, I just pictured the thick sunscreen that my pale (sorry, Kate!) younger sister always had to be slathered with on family beach vacations. And while zinc oxide is an amazing form of sun protection, zinc itself does so much more. It is an essential metal to all forms of life

So what does zinc do?

  • It plays an important role in hormone synthesis, including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. It’s important for fertility, too.
  • Zinc acts as an anti-inflammatory and a powerful antioxidant.
  • It plays a major role in brain health. It’s part of the blood-brain barrier, which keeps the brain safe from potentially harmful substances, and it’s an important piece of the equation when our bodies make important neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and GABA. It also protects brain cells against oxidative damage.
  • Aids in digestion and the absorption of other nutrients. It’s an important part of the lining of our intestines and can help repair intestinal permeability.
  • Zinc helps strengthen our immune system by increasing the production of cells that fight off infections.

And the list could go on and on! Zinc deficiency has been linked to everything from delayed wound healing, digestive problems, weak immunity, chronic fatigue, nerve dysfunction, and mental health disorders. In fact, according to Dr. Walsh, a pioneer of nutrient biochemistry, 90% or more of people diagnosed with ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, autism, and behavior disorders have low levels of plasma zinc.

Luckily, our bodies are very efficient at absorbing zinc, so we can get more than sufficient amounts from our diets if we choose the right foods.

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How much zinc do you need?

According to the Nation Institutes of Health, for those over the age of 19, males need 11mg a day, females need 9mg, pregnant women need 11mg and those breastfeeding need 12mg.

While it may be tempting to pop a zinc supplement and call it a day, don’t! Unless you’re under the care of a physician who recommends supplementing, stick with getting your zinc from foods. There’s a lot we know about nutrition, but there’s also lots we don’t; digesting healthy foods the au naturale way is the best way.  Check out our zinc-rich recipes, to get your daily dose!

 Good Sources of Zinc:

  • Oysters
  • Lamb
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Legumes, like chickpeas and lentils
  • Nuts, like cashews and almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Yogurt
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Mushrooms
  • Salmon
  • Cacao powder