Zinc is a micronutrient that is very important for human health. It is one of the most commonly found trace elements in the nature. Human body needs zinc for various enzymatic, biochemical and metabolic processes. It plays a vital role in cell growth, development, division and differentiation. In addition, it improves the immune system, vision, fertility, protein synthesis and many more.
It has been known for a long time that zinc is important for human health. However, the problem of zinc deficiency was not properly addressed until 1960s, when it was noticed that Egyptian teenagers suffered from dwarfism and late sexual development due to the lack of zinc in their diet.
The main causes of zinc deficiency are lack of zinc-rich foods in the diet, loss of zinc in food processing and certain conditions, like diarrhea.
Zinc deficiency is common in low-income societies and in those whose diet is mostly based on cereals and not much meat.
In order to prevent and cure zinc deficiency, one needs to include more foods rich in this element and to take zinc supplements.
One of the best foods when it comes to zinc is oysters. This seafood can be enjoyed in a variety of ways- raw, as oyster shooters, sautéed, as pasta topping, and many more. Six pieces of oyster provide 4.5 milligrams of iron and 76.7 milligrams of zinc, which is 70 percent and 513 percent of recommended daily value respectively. This means that oysters are an amazingly rich source of zinc; the only problem is that they are not cheap so it is not very likely that they can be included in the everyday diet.
Red kidney beans are also an excellent source of non-heme iron, which is suitable for vegetarians and fulfills their needs for this important nutrient. One cup of boiled kidney beans provides 25 percent of the daily value of iron, while the same amount provides 1.6 milligrams of zinc, which makes up 10 percent of the daily value.
Chicken is also a great source of both zinc and iron. An average chicken leg contains 2.7 milligrams of zinc or 18 percent of the recommended daily value, and it also contains 1.3 milligrams or 6 percent of iron daily value.
Beef is one of the best sources of heme iron, but it also provides significant amount of zinc. The typical 3 oz portion of beef provides from 8 to 9 milligrams of zinc, depending on the cut.
Even though most people avoid pork because it is not exactly lean and it promotes weight gain and cholesterol rise, this meat is rich in zinc, with one 3 oz. serving containing 4.2 milligrams of zinc or 17 percent of the daily value.