When it comes to nutrition, most of us can list at least a few of the most important vitamins. But did you know our bodies also need certain minerals? Zinc is one of those essential minerals that is needed to keep your body healthy.
Zinc is great for keeping your immune system healthy and it also helps you to heal from injuries—we’ll talk more about the health benefits of zinc later!
If you’re not sure if you’re getting enough zinc, or you’re looking for some good plant-based sources of this essential mineral, then read on!
How much zinc do you need?
On average, adults need between 7 and 11 milligrams of zinc per day. This is not difficult to obtain from dietary sources.
How much zinc you specifically need depends on a variety of factors, so it is always good to check with your health care professional if you have concerns.
How much zinc is too much?
Taking daily supplements that contain more than 25mg of zinc can be harmful over time. This means that taking amounts such as 50mg or 100mg of zinc can definitely be harmful.
Too much of this mineral can lead to:
- Stomach aches
What happens if you take zinc every day?
Taking zinc supplements every day in safe and recommended amounts can be good for your overall health. However, if you exceed the suggested limits, then you could be doing more harm than good.
There is evidence to suggest that consuming too much zinc from supplements can lower your HDL cholesterol levels, which can then impact your cardiovascular health.
HDL cholesterol is the ‘good’ cholesterol—it helps to clear ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from your cells.
Studies have shown that taking more than 50mg of zinc in supplement form each day can cause your HDL levels to drop. The same study also found that dropping this amount to 30mg likely has no impact on HDL cholesterol.
What are the best vegan sources of zinc?
Foods that contain the highest amounts of zinc are made from animal sources, but that doesn’t mean that there are no plant-based sources of zinc!
If you are following a plant-based diet, make sure you’re eating a variety of natural whole foods to ensure you are getting enough zinc.
Most multivitamins contain zinc and there are even specific zinc supplements you can take. However, it’s not necessary to take supplements!
The following plant-based foods are great dietary sources of zinc:
- Nuts, such as cashews or almonds
- Seeds, such as pumpkin, sesame, or hemp seeds
- Legumes, such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas
- Rice and quinoa
This list is far from complete and you are likely already eating an abundance of high-zinc foods!
What are the health benefits of zinc?
When you are not getting enough zinc it may result in a loss of appetite, difficulty in tasting and smelling foods, hair loss and a weakened immune system.
If that’s not enough reason to up your intake, then take a look at these amazing health benefits!
Zinc boosts your immune system
Zinc is an essential mineral for keeping your immune system strong and healthy.
This mineral helps activate T-cells, which are necessary to regulate your immune response system when you are fighting an infection.
Zinc helps you heal from injuries
This health-boosting mineral plays an essential role in cell growth and collagen formation, which in turn help to heal injuries and wounds. This also helps to keep your skin healthy.
Zinc keeps you young
Fighting inflammation and irritation in your body helps to aid in the prevention of a variety of diseases. Zinc is great for combating inflammation in the body.
This essential mineral also has antioxidant properties and can help boost cognitive function— which are both important for keeping your mind and body sharp!
Who should not take zinc?
Although there are many health benefits of zinc, taking zinc supplements is understood to interfere with certain medications. In some instances, this can reduce the rate of absorption, making the medication less effective.
Zinc supplements may interfere with the following medications:
- Blood pressure medication
- Immunosuppressant medications
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Thiazide diuretics
If you are unsure, then you should always check with your doctor first.
Does zinc help you sleep?
There is some debate over whether adequate amounts of zinc contribute to better sleep. The science suggests that—although it’s not clear how—zinc does contribute in some way to sleep regulation.
Researchers have revealed that adequate zinc levels can decrease the time it takes for a person to fall asleep and help to keep them asleep for longer.
Making Simple Dietary Changes
If you are looking to make small but positive changes to your diet, then there are some simple ways to go about this.
First of all, adding a nutritious meal replacement product into your diet—like Huel—is a great place to start. Huel currently offers a wide range of products, all of which are totally nutritionally complete. This means you can add one of these meal replacement options into your diet every day and enjoy a boost of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Secondly, you can make an extra effort to include more whole foods in your diet each day. This is a process you can build up slowly. For example, adding one extra plant-based option into one meal, and then increasing your effort over time.
As you include more and more healthy options into your meals, you will soon notice that the changes seriously add up over time.
Finally, if you are really struggling to make healthy adjustments to your diet in order to up your zinc levels, then you may want to consider a multivitamin.
Remember, vitamin and mineral supplements aren’t designed to replace a healthy diet and lifestyle.