Foods you can add to your daily nutritional intake if you find yourself low on the trace element ZINC (Zn).
If you’re low on ZINC – or just read our BLOG about how ZINC may help your skin respond better to skin care treatments – you’ll want to know WHAT foods you can add to your diet to get better looking, healthier skin.
How much ZINC do women and men need on a daily basis?
Zinc is a trace element, and whilst the daily need for zinc isn’t very high, it’s critical that your body has appropriate zinc intake on a daily basis. The recommended ZINC intake is currently:
- 8 mg for females
- 11 mg for males
These are the average daily intake (allowance) recommendations or RDA for Zinc, but many people struggle to get enough zinc in their daily diets.
If you’re pregnant, however, your zinc RDA is usually higher, and will vary by your age.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant women and mum’s who are breastfeeding need the following zinc intake for optimal health:
- pregnant women 14-18 years of age: 13 milligrams daily
- breastfeeding women 14-18 years of age, 14 milligrams daily.
- pregnant women 19 years old and older: 11 milligrams daily.
- breastfeeding women 19 years of age and older: 12 milligrams daily.
So which foods have the highest ZINC content?
Zinc content in Fruits and Berries
Whist plant-based zinc options are abundant, your body doesn’t always absorb the zinc nutrients as fully as it might if the source was fish or chicken and other meats.
Fruits you’ll want to add to your eating plan to increase zinc levels include:
- AVOCADOS: The highest concentration of zinc is found in avocados, in about 1.3 milligrams each.
- POMEGRANATE: a popular berry, pomegranate has approximately 1 milligram of ZINC per serving.
- BLACKBERRIES: along with anti-oxidants, blackberries have 0.8 milligram of zinc per serving.
- RASPBERRIES or LOGANBERRIES: sweet and delicious, raspberries have about 0.5 milligram of zinc per serving.
- BOYSENBERRIES: lower on the list but still a good source of zinc is the boysenberry, with approximately 0.3 milligrams per serving.
Sadly, you won’t get much zinc from eating strawberries or other berries not listed above.
Seafood can be high in Zinc
Seafood can also be high in zinc (i.e., 6 cooked Oysters will provide 42 grams of Zinc – well over the daily RDA). Crab and Lobster also provide high levels of ZINC.
Meat Sources and Zinc
Beef and Lamb typically offer people high levels of Zinc.
Grains can include Zinc
Crude or un-toasted Wheat Germ is the go to for zinc in the grains department.
Green Leafy Vegetables have high levels of ZINC
For plant-based zinc, try Spinach (cooked is better for absorption), Endive or Radiccio leaves. Asparagus and brussel sprouts can also be a good source of additional zinc, although they only offer 0.5 mg per cup.
But your body doesn’t always absorb plant-based zinc as well as zinc from other types of food sources.
Seeds and Nuts Containing zinc
Pumpkin seeds are very high in zinc (and often iron), and squash seeds are also good sources for added dietary zinc.
Other good seed sources for zinc intake include Sesame Seeds, Sunflower seeds, Chia and Flaxseeds.
Cashews are great sources of Zinc followed by Pine Nuts, Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds, Peanuts and Hazelnuts.
Chocolate or Cocoa and Zinc
If you were looking for an excuse to consume chocolate (not that you ever need one as dark chocolate has many benefits to health), you’ll be glad to hear that Dark baking Chocolate is apparently high in Zinc.
Zinc in Legumes or Beans
Beans, in particular cooked Chickpeas, are apparently good sources of Zinc. Soybeans, Lima beans and Peas offer 0.5 mg of zinc per cup.
Legumes – chickpeas in particular – are popular choices for vegans and vegetarians.
For anyone wanting to add zinc to their diet, you can also try baked beans, adzuki beans and kidney beans.
Mushrooms and Zinc Content (Portabella, Brown Mushrooms, Dried Shitake Mushrooms)
There are many different types of Mushrooms, and mushrooms can be a good source for zinc.
Try adding cooked White Mushrooms, Brown mushrooms (raw) and Portabella Mushrooms, Oyster Mushrooms and Dried Shitake mushrooms. Not only do they help add to your zinc intake, they are great additions – or even the key BASIS – for a delicious meal.
Are you potentially Zinc Deficient?
Zinc deficiency is, unfortunately, very common, especially in ageing women and men and people who limit their intake of seafood or meat and don’t supplement their zinc though other food sources.
If you are older, you’re even more likely to be low in zinc, and this in turn may leave your skin looking less-healthy and more lax, dull or wrinkled.
Being low in zinc can impact your skin, hair and nails, causing dermatitis, diarrhoea and sometimes hair loss.
Pigmentation changes in your skin and hair, a slowing of the growth in your fingernails and hair – even chronic skin sores – point to the possibility that there might be low levels of zinc in your body. But you’ll want to verify if this is the cause by getting a full exam and blood work to determine your overall health and zinc levels (and it’s often wise to check your iron levels whilst you’re at it).
Vegetarians may have a harder time getting enough ZINC in their daily nutrition regimes.
It’s a lot harder to get your daily requirement of 8 mg zinc (the zinc requirement for an adult woman) if you’re a vegetarian than if you’re a meat eater, but there are plant-based foods that are high in zinc.
Two favorite ZINC loaded food sources for vegetarians or vegans are AVOCADOS and POMEGRANATES.
Zinc is found in a bound form in many plant foods, as noted above.
Vegetarians might need 50% more zinc in their daily diets to insure they get enough.
That’s partially because for people with plant-focused diets, the relatively high phytic acid content in plant proteins hinders humans’ ability to absorb zinc.
Avocados are a great fruit source of Zinc, as noted. For meat-based diets, darker skinned chicken and turkey legs and thighs, along with seafood, tend to have the highest zinc levels.
Is ZINC deficiency impacting your skin or mood?
Zinc deficiency is linked to a number of problems and can increase complication risks for certain illnesses. It has even been linked to mood disorders such as depression.
As far as what low zinc levels can do to your skin, sluggish cellular turnover is associated with inadequate zinc intake. If you are zinc deficient, your skin may look a bit lackluster and dull. You don’t want to overdo zinc intake, however, because that can also lead to problems, including constipation. If you’re taking Zinc supplements, be sure you’re being monitored regularly by your GP or Nutritionist because overdoing zinc is a no-no and can lead to numerous unwanted effects.
Ask one of our Dermal Clinicians for advice on skin care solutions AND how ZINC sun blocks and sunscreens or skin care products containing zinc can help you keep your skin looking its best. Send an enquiry form or phone us during Clinic Hours on (03) 8849 1400.