Zinc

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Zinc is an essential mineral and can be found in high amounts in oysters, crabs and other meat products. Zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in the body, needed for approximately 100 enzymatic reactions. The human body cannot produce zinc on its own, so we need to obtain it through diet. This mineral impacts wound healing, DNA synthesis, immune function, protein absorption and cell division. Zinc deficiency can cause impaired sense of taste and smell in otherwise healthy individuals.

Helps maintain a healthy immune system

It is well established that Zinc plays a vital role for the integrity of the immune system. Zinc insufficiency can have widespread implications on multiple components of the immune system. Zinc’s role in the immune system is to support the innate and adaptive immune responses. It supports both cell mediated functions, including cytokine production, as well as humoral immunity responsible for creating antibodies to antigens (foreign invaders). Zinc deficiency can impair macrophage and neutrophil functions (chemotaxis, phagocytosis, oxidative Burst), natural killer cell activity and complement activity.The EFSA Panel concluded that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of zinc and the normal function of the immune system.

References
  1. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc

    Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001

  2. Zinc - Fact Sheet for Health Professionals

    National Institute of Health - Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institute of Health - Office of Dietary Supplements (website), 2016

  3. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to zinc and function of the immune system (ID 291, 1757), DNA synthesis and cell division (ID 292, 1759), protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage (ID 294, 1758), maintenance of bone (ID 295, 1756), cognitive function (ID 296), fertility and reproduction (ID 297, 300), reproductive development (ID 298), muscle function (ID 299), metabolism of fatty acids (ID 302), maintenance of joints (ID 305), function of heart and blood vessels (ID 306), prostate function (ID 307), thyroid function (ID 308), acid-base metabolism (ID 360), vitamin A metabolism (ID 361) and maintenance of vision (ID 361) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006

    EFSA Panel of Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies, EFSA Journal, 2009

  4. Monograph: Zinc

    Health Canada, Health Canada, 2013

Supports digestion

Indigestion is defined as a feeling of fullness, bloating, belching, aching and/or gas shortly after eating. It is believed that indigestion can often be linked back to lowered stomach acid (1,2).Zinc is a mineral needed by both the immune system and digestive system, and is obtained through a varied diet. When it comes to digestion, zinc helps support the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.* Sufficient hydrochloric acid is needed to help break food down, especially proteins. This initial breakdown of food in the stomach allows for proper absorption in the small intestine. Those who experience occasional indigestion may benefit from additional zinc, since these symptoms may be associated with decreased levels of hydrochloric acid (3,4).

References
  1. Implications of Low Stomach Acid: An Update

    Banoo H. and Nusrat N., RAMA Univ. J. Med Sci, 2016

  2. Patient Care and Health Information: Indigestion

    Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), 2011

  3. Zinc and gastrointestinal disease

    Skrovanek S, et al., World J Gastrointest Pathophysiol , 2014

  4. Zinc: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals

    National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, 2020

Vegetarians/Vegans Have a Higher Risk of Deficiency

Oysters, lean red meat, whole-grain cereals, pulses and legumes are the highest sources of dietary zinc. However, vegetarian sources of zinc such as whole-grain cereals and legumes contain a compound called phytates that may bind to some of the zinc and inhibit its absorption, leading to less than optimal levels. Therefore vegetarians and vegans are at a greater risk for zinc insufficiency than meat eaters, and may require up to 50% more of the RDA to meet their needs.Kristensen et al. found that zinc intake from meat diets was 20-24% higher than from the vegetarian diet. Additionally, meat-diets had a significant increase in total zinc absorption of 45-50% compared to the vegetarian diet that was of comparable calorie and phytic acid content.

References
  1. Zinc: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals

    National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, 2020

  2. Total zinc absorption in young women, but not fractional zinc absorption, differs between vegetarian and meat-based diets with equal phytic acid content

    Kristensen MB, Hels O, Morberg C, Marving J et al., British Journal of Nutrition, 2006