Zinc is being depleted from our soil and therefore, our plant foods contain less of this vital mineral than ever. Currently the best food sources for zinc are some meats, beans, certain dairy and nuts.
The RDA of zinc varies from 3 mg a day (for 7 months-3 year olds) to 14 mg (for lactating teens). To ensure you are getting enough zinc while limiting your meat intake, consume the following foods:
- Cashews (1oz has 1.6mg of zinc), Almonds (1oz has 1.0mg of zinc), Peanuts (1oz has .9mg of zinc)
- Milk/Yogurt (8oz has 1.8mg of zinc), Cheddar Cheese (1oz has .9mg of zinc)
- Baked Beans (1/2 cup has mg of zinc), Garbanzo/Chickpeas (1/2 cup as 1.3mg of zinc)
- Chicken/dark meat (3 oz has 1.8mg of zinc), Turkey/dark meat (3oz has 3.8mg of zinc)
- Pork (3 oz has 2.2mg of zinc)
- Beef (3 oz has 6.0mg of zinc)
What happens when we are zinc deficient? Lots of bad things are possible;
growth retardation, pregnancy complications, delayed neurological development in children, delayed behavioral development in children, reduced immune function, and a higher likelihood for children to contract disease like malaria, infectious diarrhea, and pneumonia.
In addition to zinc being a vital part of our diet to maintain good health, it is also a valuable mineral to use in the treatment of many common health conditions.
Our teenager has a compromised immune system from Autoimmune TTP. She gets cold sores frequently, we treat them by applying zinc directly to the sore. Zinc lozenges have also been effective in the treatment of colds. For the best benefit, enjoy a lozenge every 2 hours during awake hours (while ill). It is also suspected that zinc may play a role in treating age related macular degeneration (which causes blindness). Those with diabetes have been found to be zinc deficient and studies are ongoing to determine if there is an amount of zinc supplementation that can be used to improve immune function without increasing blood glucose levels. Be sure to check with your Doctor prior to starting any supplementation if you have ongoing health issues.
Acute toxicity can occur from zinc intake. This has occurred when zinc has leached into food or beverage from galvanized containers. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and nausea. This is RARE. Single doses of zinc in the 225-450mg range will result in vomiting. Milder gastrointestinal effects have been seen with daily supplementation between 50-150mg. So be careful, too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing.
The best way to get enough zinc in a vegan diet is to include several servings of nuts and beans to your daily diet. Vegetarians and Omnivores should also consume lowfat milk and yogurt. Those who need the most zinc are teen boys, men, pregnant women and lactating women (and teens).
Eat well. Be well.