Zinc is necessary for many of the body’s processes and most people are chronically deficient in this vital mineral. It is an active agent in our body’s ability to metabolize food and nutrients. It is also involved with triggering over 100 differing internal enzymes required for many metabolic actions. Zinc is also crucial for the health of the human immune system. It aids growth through its role in protein building and synthesis, and is therefore particularly needed in pregnant and lactating women.
It also plays a role in the body’s ability to heal itself after an injury. Zinc supports your sense of smell and is commonly linked to healthy eyes, skin and hair. We must ensure that we get enough zinc in our diet, potentially from zinc supplements, as the body does not naturally have a zinc storage system.
There are many foods that contain zinc, but the following list of foods possess the highest amounts of naturally-occurring zinc. These foods would be a great addition to any diet.
1. Pumpkin seeds
Not only are they extremely high in zinc, pumpkin seeds also play a role in the prevention of prostate cancer. Pumpkin seeds also support immune system health. For maximum zinc-intake, the seeds should be eaten raw, as roasting them can deplete zinc intake.
2. Dark Chocolate
The occasional indulgence in a square of dark chocolate may offer a boost to your zinc levels. One hundred grams of unsweetened dark chocolate has up to 9.6mg of zinc. Cocoa powder has 6.8mg.
This pungent bulb offers moderate levels of naturally occurring zinc, and is easy to incorporate into almost any meal. Garlic is also a great food for detox that contains high levels of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C and selenium.
4. Sesame Seeds
Raw, toasted or ground into tahini butter, sesame seeds hold around 10mg of zinc per 100g serving. Try incorporating more hummus (a tahini-butter-based Middle Eastern dip) into your diet, or even consider replacing wheat flour with sesame seed flour in your baked goods or breads.
5. Watermelon Seeds
It may seem strange, but dried watermelon seeds have 10mg of zinc per 100g serving.
6. Wheat Germ
An excellent additive to sprinkle on your salad, toasted wheat germ offers 17mg of zinc per 100g serving. This is over 100% of the recommended daily allowance.
7. Squash Seeds
Another popular Middle Eastern seed, squash seeds contain around 10mg of zinc per 100g serving. You can remove the seeds directly from the squash and eat them raw, or dry or roast them in your oven. I prefer raw.
A 7 ounce serving contains about 2.8mg of zinc. They also contain folate and are high in protein and dietary fiber.
Other Sources of Zinc
Aside from the foods listed above, there are many other ways to get zinc in your diet. If you don’t eat any of the foods above, I recommend supplementing your diet with a zinc supplement.
If you decide to take a zinc supplement, then be sure to do your research on the different types of zinc supplements. They are not all created equal. Personally, I would only use and recommend zinc orotate.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM