Around 90% of the zinc that you consume will be distributed and used by different areas in the body whereas, only 0.1% of it will circulate in the body. Most of the zinc in your body is stored in the skeletal muscle, bone, skin and liver.
Zinc is essential for the functioning of around 100 enzymes (proteins that speed up reactions in the body). By being involved in enzyme activity, zinc plays an integral role in:
- Cell division
- Cell metabolism
- DNA formation
- Fetal growth during pregnancy
- Growth and development
- Immune response
- Protein formation
- Senses of taste and smell
- Wound healing
Zinc can be found naturally within a variety of food. The most common food sources for Zinc are baked beans, beef, Brazil nuts, cashews, cheese, chicken, chickpeas, crab, eggs, lentils, liver, pecan nuts, pine nuts, seafood, soybeans, sunflower seeds, tofu, turkey and yogurt.
Deficiency and Excess Intake
The development of a zinc deficiency is possible and is typically more common in adults than it is in children. Various individuals are at a higher risk for developing a zinc deficiency; this includes:
- Individuals with gastrointestinal disorders can struggle with the absorption and excess loss of zinc.
- Vegetarians– zinc is absorbed better from animal-based products compared to plant-based foods. Many plant-based foods (e.g., legumes and whole grains) are high in phytates which decrease zinc absorption.
- Pregnant and lactating women – have a much higher zinc requirement because the fetus (and then baby) has a high zinc requirement.
- Older infants who are still exclusively breastfed – breastmilk provides enough zinc up and till the age of 6 months. Beyond this age, infants can still be breastfed but should start including age-appropriate foods to get more zinc, as well as other nutrients, in the diet.
- Individuals with sickle cell disease – have a much higher zinc requirement.
- Alcoholics – alcohol disrupts zinc absorption and increases the amount of zinc lost through the urine.
If a zinc deficiency does occur, then it will give rise to numerous, non-specific symptoms. Many of the zinc deficiency symptoms can appear as a result of other conditions; therefore, it is important to always test for a zinc deficiency.
On the other end of the spectrum is zinc toxicity (too much zinc in the body) which can occur both very suddenly and over a prolonged period. Not only does zinc toxicity result in a few uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea, poor appetite, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea and headaches; but it also affects your immune response and interferes with various other nutrients. Excessive zinc intake can result in a decrease in copper in the body and changes in iron function.
To find out if you have a higher zinc requirement according to your genes, make the better choice and choose to do EatwellgxTM+ test today!