Zinc is important for your body as an all-rounder trace element

Sebastian Grimm | 06.09.2021

Zinc, the all-rounder trace element: effects and benefits for your body

Everything about zinc

Zinc is a mineral and trace element that is extremely important for your body, but which it does not produce on its own. Therefore, it is even more important that your daily needs are adequately covered by an external intake of the mineral.


Are you taking enough of the important zinc?

Did you know that the German Nutrition Society (DGE) recently increased the recommended intake? Previously, the experts gave reference values of 7 mg a day for women and 10 mg a day for men. After the revision, the new reference values are based on phytate intake and also differentiate between age and gender.

At the current time, the DGE gives these values to cover 100 % NRV of zinc:

– Women aged 19 and over: 7 mg, 8 mg and 10 mg respectively (depending on whether low, medium or high phytate intake).
– Men 19 years and older: 11 mg, 14 mg or 16 mg daily (depending on phytate intake).
– Adolescents: Women 11 mg a day, men 14 mg a day
– Children, depending on age: 4 to 9 mg daily

The previous reference values have thus been corrected upwards by up to 40 %. This not only underlines the importance of the mineral, but also gives you reason to inform yourself about zinc-containing foods with which you can cover your needs through natural sources.

By the way: It is actually somewhat easier to cover your own zinc needs in Germany than in other geographical regions. This is because many legumes, cereals and vegetables grow in this country, which naturally contain a relatively high amount of zinc. Germans also like to eat meat, and higher amounts of zinc are also found in pork, poultry and beef.  Studies therefore show that the zinc supply in Germany is largely positive; undersupply is the exception. In order to ensure a guaranteed supply of zinc, especially during the cold season, we at Nature Basics offer a zinc preparation with 10 mg, which comes exclusively from natural plant sources. Other food supplements, on the other hand, are often overdosed with up to 25 mg per capsule.


What happens in the case of an overdose or underdose?

The trace element benefits from the way it functions in the body. It is a very important building block of many different enzymes, which means that it is automatically involved in the metabolism and a multitude of processes in general. The importance of the mineral is particularly evident in the symptoms of a permanent deficiency.

People who suffer from zinc deficiency show these symptoms, among others:

– worsened wound healing
– loss of appetite
– hair loss
– Fertility and growth disorders

Because zinc is involved in so many processes in the body, symptoms can manifest themselves in very different ways, especially since all of the complaints just mentioned could also be triggered by other diseases or deficiencies. In fact, it is not so easy for doctors to determine whether the body has a sufficiently high level of zinc. It is determined via the blood plasma, but it varies considerably depending on the time of day and the last meal, which means that these values are not necessarily reliable.

There are unpleasant side effects if you take too much of the mineral, these

are possible:

– Abdominal pain
– nausea
– Diarrhoea and/or vomiting

In the worst case, too much zinc can reduce the absorption of copper and iron, which in turn inhibits blood formation.


What does zinc do? Its tasks and positive effects on your body

A study by the University of Lübeck found that the human immune system would not function properly if it was not “fed” and “driven” with sufficient amounts of the important trace element. It is of elementary importance for your immune system that you cover your daily requirement – every day! As a result, your body is better able to fight off viruses and bacteria or to form an immune response to these pathogens in time before an illness breaks out. Of course, the mineral is only one component of a healthy, perfectly functioning immune system. Moreover, anoher positive effect are the anti-inflammatory properties. Coupled with the strengthened immune response, the mineral could shorten a cold or help your body regenerate stressed mucous membranes.

Apart from this, a sufficiently high dosage is worthwhile in many other places. Below you will find an overview of the positive effects of a sufficiently high zinc intake.


#1 – The skin’s appearance improves

The mineral can promote healthy, beautiful skin in two ways. On the one hand, according to studies, it is a very effective neutraliser of free radicals, i.e. it can “catch” and eliminate them before they become a burden on your body or skin. On the other hand, the mineral stimulates skin cell production or normalises it. This is particularly helpful if the skin is generally rather stressed, for example in smokers.


#2 – The healthy substance with a mood-lifting effect

Some studies are investigating a connection between depressive phases and a constantly low zinc concentration. First results strengthen this presumed connection, but representative, empirical results are still pending. There is also a well-founded suspicion that the mineral boosts concentration and makes you mentally more resilient.


#3 – Effect on our sexuality

The mineral interacts with our hormones, including those of the thyroid gland. For women, the mineral is considered an important building block in terms of fertility, and for men, it is thought to be beneficial for potency and prostate health. The all-round trace element is also said to alleviate or prevent mild menstrual cramps.


#4 – The mineral repairs our muscles

Anyone who trains frequently and with (heavy) weights has certainly heard of “muscle fibre tears”. Pronounced muscle fibre tears are extremely painful, but tend to be the exception. Nevertheless, they sometimes occur microscopically during training, so small in fact that you hardly notice them – except perhaps in the course of a particularly painful muscle soreness. However, your body can repair such ultra-fine tears on its own: through a sufficiently high protein and zinc intake.

And what else does zinc do? It is generally involved in the metabolism of all substances, proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body!


What foods supply zinc?

Power suppliers of zinc are plentiful, but you should also bear in mind that the bioavailability of the different types of zinc plays a key role. Some types of zinc are less easily absorbed, so you shouldn’t just rely on the numerical value. The amount of zinc your body absorbs is determined by phytate or phytic acid. This acid is found in high amounts in legumes, nuts and cereals. If you eat a lot of these, your absorption capacity is reduced, which is why you should eat foods containing zinc more often.

A rough rule of thumb for the bioavailability and the 100% NRV declaration: Your body draws about 15 to 40 percent of the stated zinc value from the food. Your daily requirement is actually best covered by animal foods, as these utilise around 30 to 40 % of the zinc they contain. Plant-based power suppliers of zinc often only get about 15 to 25 %. Of course, the other advantages and disadvantages of animal and plant foods must also be taken into account. This is why zinc from plant sources is increasingly preferred despite its lower bioavailability.


And which food actually offers the most zinc?

It’s oysters, which contain 22 mg per 100 g. However, due to the way it works in the body, this does not mean that your body actually utilises the entire zinc content.

Zinc-containing foods for children, adolescents and adults:

– Except oysters: Which food offers the most zinc? Wheat germ has 18 mg / 100 g, wheat bran 9.2 mg / 100 g.
– Liver is full of zinc (up to 8.4 mg), but also proteins and vitamins.
– Poppy seeds and pumpkin seeds are other natural sources with 8.1 mg / 100 g and 7 mg / 100 g respectively.
– Beef contains up to 5.2 mg / 100 g
– Oatmeal around 4.3 mg / 100 g
– Guava leaves with about 1.5 mg / 100 g

Of course, guava leaf is not normally part of the diet and zinc extraction from it is laborious. Nevertheless, it is the most suitable source for a food supplement that wants to obtain zinc from a plant source and is therefore part of our Nature Basics products.

Apart from this, what processed foods provide me with zinc? Many different types of cheese, including Edam with 30% fat, which comes to around 5.3 mg per 100 g. In addition, Emmental with 4.6 mg and Gouda with 3.9 mg also do well!

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