Should I take zinc supplements?

Most people need up to 11 mg of zinc a day. But, we may fail to take the recommended daily dose from food. Taking zinc supplements is a cheap and safe way to prevent zinc deficiency which may lead to serious health problems.

What does zinc do for the body?

Zinc is an essential mineral, vital for the human body. It is required for over 100 enzymes! Moreover, zinc plays a key role in the proper function of the immune system. Also, the body needs zinc to make proteins and DNA. Additionally, zinc is necessary for the normal growth of children.[1]

Furthermore, zinc is vital for thick hair, the synthesis of testosterone and for increased fertility and sex drive!

What’s the recommended daily dose?

The body can’t naturally produce zinc or store it. We need a daily intake of zinc. The recommended daily dosage for men is 11 mg and 8 mg for women.

Moreover, the recommended daily intake for pregnant women is 11 mg and breastfeeding women need 12 mg a day.

We can take this doses from food. On the other hand, in acute zinc deficiencies we’ll benefit from much higher doses, that only zinc supplements can provide.

Is zinc deficiency common?

Actually, zinc deficiency is common. About 2 billion people are deficient in zinc worldwide![2,3] Inadequate dietary zinc intake or decreased zinc absorption, due to various health issues can cause zinc deficiency.

Moreover, vegans, vegetarians, and people who follow a plant-based diet have increased risk of zinc deficiency. Plants, such as legumes and whole grains contain phytates. These are natural compounds that bind zinc, inhibiting its absorption.

Therefore, vegans and vegetarians require up to 50% more zinc than the recommended daily dose! So, they may benefit from consuming around 16 mg of zinc a day!

Furthermore, athletes have higher risk of zinc deficiency. Zinc is necessary for building muscle mass and improving endurance! So, athletes may benefit from higher daily doses of zinc.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency

Acute zinc deficiency may cause loss of appetite, weight loss, weak immune system, hair loss, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, delayed healing of wounds, thin skin, and inflammation of the eye.

Many of these symptoms are associated with other health conditions, as well. So, you should consult your health care provider before taking zinc supplements. Severe zinc deficiency is rather uncommon.

How much zinc can you take a day?

Most people can take safely doses up to 40 mg of zinc a day! On the contrary, long-term zinc intakes above this dose may increase the risk of adverse health effects.

Certainly, people can take much higher doses from zinc supplements for medical treatment and only under the care of their physician!

Common foods rich in zinc that you should eat daily

Good dietary sources of zinc are oats, soybeans, lentils, chickpeasalmonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. See the whole list of common plant-based foods with zinc here.

How can I increase zinc bioavailability of plant-based food?

Plants contain phytates which inhibit zinc absorption. We can reduce phytates with soaking. Soaking increases zinc bioavailability!

You can soak beans, seeds, and grains for several hours. Rinse them a couple of times. Phytates and other compounds known as anti-nutrients leak into the water. So, changing water and rinsing beans, seeds, and grains can significantly decrease these compounds!

Moreover, soaking, rinsing, and sprouting make food more digesting and reduce gas! Above all, you should discard the water after soaking. Use only fresh water for cooking. 

Furthermore, we should prefer leavened bread and other grain products. The leaving process breaks down phytates! So, we absorb more zinc from food!

What zinc supplement is more absorbable?

Taking zinc supplements is an easy and cheap way to increase your zinc intake. But, there are many forms of zinc. The most common are zinc gluconate, zinc citrate, and zinc oxide.

Prefer buying supplements with zinc gluconate or zinc citrate. They’re well absorbed. On the contrary, you better avoid supplements with zinc oxide, as it’s poorly absorbed.[4,5] Additionally, prefer supplements with chelated zinc, as it’s better absorbed.[6]

Symptoms of too much zinc in the body

If you take high doses of zinc from supplements for a long time, you may experience adverse health effects, such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and headaches.

Most noteworthy, high doses of zinc may lower immunity and HDL-cholesterol. The “good” cholesterol…