Nutrition Focus: Zinc


Zinc is an essential mineral for human health. It is the second most abundant metal in the body, after iron.  We cannot store zinc so we have to eat it every day.

Zinc is a trace mineral that is part of 200+ enzyme reactions and many metabolic processes in our body.  It is particularly important for brain development and central nervous system functioning.  Zinc plays a critical role in immune function, protection of gut health and for maintaining skin integrity.

Zinc deficiency is prevelant in developing nations where up to 30% of people are zinc deficient.  

Severe zinc deficiency causes the following:

  • Skin and mouth sores
  • Diarrhea, severe
  • Increased infections
  • Short stature and growth problems

Mild zinc deficiency results in milder symptoms:

  • Slow growth
  • Minor rashes
  • Reduced appetite
  • Decreased immune function

People at risk for zinc deficiency:

  • Vegans and vegetarians as zinc in plant foods is bound to phytate and is less readily absorbed
  • Alcoholics due to decreased gut absorption
  • Gastrointestinal disease reducing aborption but also increasing losses
  • Pregnant and lactating women - baby growth requires a lot of zinc and zinc is depleted from mom into breast milk

Zinc supplementation 

  • Reduces duration of common cold when taken at the beginning of illness
  • Reduces acute and chronic diarrhea illnesses
  • Improves skin healing
  • Improves mental health especially when given with medications for depression and anxiety 

Zinc modulates production of melatonin which in turn regulates dopamine function - both these brain chemicals are important for sleep and brain function.  Zinc can improve attention deficit symptoms. It can also improve depression and anxiety symptoms as patients with these mental health issues are often somewhat zinc deficient. 

Foods high in Zinc
Seafood - oysters, crabs                                      Dried lentils       
Beef and poultry                                                   Oatmeal and bran 
Pork/pork liver                                                      Wheat bread
Whole milk and cheese                                       Brown rice

Nutrition and Yoga for Emotional Health returns on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 10:30a at Whole Yoga & Wellness.  We will discuss ZINC and other nutrients along with a yoga practice to improve emotional well being and specifically discuss attention deficit, depression and anxiety.  Join us!  To learn more and register, go to

Download the fabulously useful Wholistic Medicine Cabinet.  The Wholistic Medicine Cabinet is a great tool to keeping the right home remedies around to help heal your family.  In addition, you will get a 25% discount to any workshop or class at Whole Yoga & Wellness in your welcome email.