Nutrient Information: Zinc, Zn

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Nutrient Key Information 
Nutrient Name: Zinc, Zn
Nutrient Category: Minerals
Measuring Unit: mg
Nutrient Summary: Zinc is an essential mineral, it is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. Zinc facilitates metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. It helps to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. It also helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
Nutrient Function: Zinc is catalyst for nearly 100 specific enzymes to facilitate metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fats for the structural integrity of certain proteins and in the regulation of gene expression. The pancreas uses zinc to make digestive enzymes and secretes them into the intestine. The key functions of zinc are:

• Protein synthesis
• DNA synthesis
• Assist in body growth and development
• Decrease oxidative stress to against free-radical attacks
• Play role in improving immune function
• Proper sense of taste and smell
• Interact with platelets to help blood clotting
• Help wound healing: zinc helps maintain the integrity of skin and mucosal membranes
• A component of retinol-binding protein which transports vitamin A in the blood
• May help to slow the age-related macular degeneration (AMD) progression

More than 85% of the body's total zinc is in the skeletal muscle and bone. During Zinc metabolic process, some excessive zinc remain within the intestinal mucosal cells by metallothionein (a type of protein) until the body needs zinc.

Zinc, Zn Interactions With Other Nutrients 
Iron, Fe
Iron and zinc supplements may decrease each other's absorption

Iron and zinc share a common absorption pathway in the intestines, high concentration of one mineral can potentially inhibit the absorption of the other due to competition for this transporter. In addition, iron supplements can form insoluble complexes with zinc in the gastrointestinal tract, that reduce the availability of zinc for absorption.


When taking high bioavailability Ferrous Sulfate iron supplement, especially without food, the impact to the zinc absorption is more pronounced. The higher the iron supplement dosage, the severe the zinc absorption reduction. It is true vice versa.


Recommend to separate the intake of iron and zinc supplements by a few hours to reduce direct competition for absorption. It is better to obtain heme iron from animal products which is less likely to interfere with zinc absorption, and also make sure to get sufficient zinc from food sources such as meat, shellfish, seeds, nuts, cheese, and whole grains.

References: Iron and Zinc Homeostasis and Interactions: Does Enteric Zinc Excretion Cross-Talk with Intestinal Iron Absorption?
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6722515

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Food Sources

Animal foods:
• Shellfish, such as oyster, crab, lobster, clam
• Red meats, such as beef and pork
• Poultry
• Dairy products, such as egg, milk, and plain yogurt

Plant based foods:
• Beans (such as garbanzo beans, soybeans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans) and peas
• Nuts (such as cashew nuts, pecans, and peanut butter)
• Seeds (such as pumpkin seeds)
• Whole grains. Refined grains lost as much as 80 percent of total zinc during milling because zinc is mainly found in the germ and bran portions of grains which are removed in the process.
• Fortified cereals

For vegan diet (pure vegetarian), the key food sources of Zinc are:
• Fortified cereals, whole grains
• Legumes
• Nuts and seeds

Note:
1) Animal based foods with adequate protein has higher bioavailability of zinc
2) The Zinc absorption rate is inverse of the amount of zinc consumed, when the zinc intake increases, the absorption rate decreases.
3) Phytic acid or phytate (found in some plant based foods, such as beans, seeds, nuts, and grains) may reduce zinc bioavailability. Some food processing can help destroy phytates, such as sprouting, cooking, fermenting, yeast leavening, etc. Learn more at WebMD: Foods High in Phytic Acid.
4) Iron supplement taken without food may decrease zinc absorption
5) Calcium and phosphorus may decrease zinc absorption

Sample Foods High in: Zinc, Zn
View Additional Food Sources
Food Description Nutrient Amount1 Daily Value%2
Mollusks, oyster, eastern, wild, cooked, moist heat
Category: Finfish and Shellfish Products
78.6 mg 714.55%
Beef, chuck eye steak, boneless, separable lean only, trimmed to 0" fat, all grades, cooked, grilled
Category: Beef Products
10.54 mg 95.82%
Seeds, pumpkin and squash seeds, whole, roasted, without salt
Category: Nut and Seed Products
10.3 mg 93.64%
Beef, loin, top sirloin cap steak, boneless, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 1/8" fat, all grades, cooked, grilled
Category: Beef Products
9.99 mg 90.82%
Nuts, cashew nuts, dry roasted, without salt added
Category: Nut and Seed Products
5.6 mg 50.91%
Seeds, chia seeds, dried
Category: Nut and Seed Products
4.58 mg 41.64%
1 Nutrient amount is in 100 gram food
2 Use FDA 2000 calorie diet as Daily Value reference



Additional Nutrient Information
Nutrient Summary Zinc is an essential mineral, it is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. Zinc facilitates metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. It helps to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. It also helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
Deficiency Health Effects Zinc deficiency is rare in North America. The primary symptom of zinc deficiency is impaired growth velocity. Main symptoms are:

• Slow growth in infants and children
• Diarrhea caused by impaired digestion and absorption, as a result, it causes other nutrients deficiency as well
• Impaired immune function which makes infections more likely, such as pneumonia and GI tract infections
• Delayed sexual development in adolescents and impotence in men
• Zinc deficiency directly impairs vitamin A metabolism
• Eye and skin sores
• Hair loss
• It could alter taste, that leads to loss of appetite
• The chronic zinc deficiency may damage the central nervous system and brain.
Effects if Above Upper Limit There is no evidence of adverse effects from intake of naturally occurring zinc in foods. The adverse effects associated with chronic intake of supplemental zinc include:

• Suppression of the immune system and impair immune function
• Decrease of high density lipoprotein (HDL, "Good") cholesterol
• Reduce copper metabolism
• Acute effects: such as gastrointestinal distress, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, or even vomiting
External References Learn more at:
• The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine publication: Dietary Reference Intakes
• NIH (National Institutes of Health) Article: Zinc
• NIH (National Institutes of Health) Article: Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID-19
• healthline.com Article: Zinc: Everything You Need to Know



Daily Value Age Group Recommended Daily Values Daily Value Upper Limits
Toddler 1 to 3 years old: 3 mg 7 mg
Child 4 to 8 years old: 5 mg 12 mg
Male 9 to 13 years old: 8 mg 23 mg
Male 14 to 18 years old: 11 mg 34 mg
Male 19 to 30 years old: 11 mg 40 mg
Male 31 to 50 years old: 11 mg 40 mg
Male 51 to 70 years old: 11 mg 40 mg
Male Senior 71 or older: 11 mg 40 mg
Female 9 to 13 years old: 8 mg 23 mg
Female 14 to 18 years old: 9 mg 34 mg
Female 19 to 30 years old: 8 mg 40 mg
Female 31 to 50 years old: 8 mg 40 mg
Female 51 to 70 years old: 8 mg 40 mg
Female Senior 71 or older: 8 mg 40 mg
Female Pregnancy (>18): 11 mg 40 mg
Female Lactation (>18): 12 mg 40 mg
FDA (Based on 2000 calorie daily diet): 11 mg


Dietary Reference Intakes The nutrient Dietary Reference Intakes and nutrition facts is from Institute of Medicine of National Academies 2006. Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/11537
US FDA Nutrition Education Nutrition facts knowledge are based on U.S. FOOD & DRUG Administration Nutrition Education Resources & Materials. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/interactivenutritionfactslabel/
National Institutes of Health Nutrition facts knowledge are based on National Institutes of Health Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all
Disclaimer The nutrient information provided here should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (such as your doctor) about your dietary requirements which are best for your overall health. We also recommend you to read organization or professional reference documents or articles mentioned, but not limited to, in this page. Any mentions and reference links in this page don't represent our endorsement of their services and advice.


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