Zinc is an essential mineral (trace element), naturally found in certain foods as well as added artificially to others. This mineral is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is used as a catalyst in the activity of around 100 enzymes, it plays a role in protein synthesis, immune function, DNA creation, controlling blood sugar levels as well as cell division.
Furthermore, zinc is needed for maintaining a good vision, and it may have a role in the prevention of viruses attacking the body. It appears to decrease the symptoms of the rhinovirus (common cold), however scientists can’t yet explain the exact mechanism. Also there is some evidence that zinc has antiviral properties against the herpes virus.
Benefits of zinc in athletes
In the fitness world, zinc is known as a mineral that can help muscle growth. It affects virtually all phases of growth. There are a few important benefits of zinc rich foods for bodybuilders and fitness athletes. The first is the ability of zinc to increase testosterone levels. (which can lead to increased muscle mass).
Then there is the aid that zinc provides for better sleep. And one of the most important is, like we mentioned the use of zinc in protein synthesis.
Not eating enough foods high in zinc, coupled with intense training will lead to zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency symptoms include slow growth, change in appetite (loss of it), irritability, hair loss, dry skin, loss of smell and taste, diarrhea, and nausea.
Some other symptoms of zinc deficiency include:
-Problems with sleep
-Eczema and other skin conditions
-Lack of sex drive
-Loss of appetite
-White spots on your fingernails
List of foods that are high in zinc:
1. Cocoa and chocolate
Cocoa and dark chocolate are known for their high benefits. Besides antioxidants cocoa powder contains high amounts of zinc. A 100 gram dark chocolate can contain up to 65% of daily values of zinc. (or 10 mg of zinc)
2. Watermelon and pumpkin seeds
3. Red meat
Red meat is known as a zinc rich food. It also rich in iron and is recommended as a remedy for anemia.
100g of roasted peanuts have about 22% of the recommended daily quantity of zinc.
Contains close to 80% of the recommended value in a 100g portion. Besides the high content of zinc, liver contains many more minerals and vitamins. It is usually served with fried onions.
A hundred gram serving of oysters can provide anywhere from one hundred to one thousand percent of the recommended daily amount, making it one of the best foods high in zinc.
You should also know that when consumed in doses that are higher than the recommended, Zinc can be toxic, disrupt the absorption of iron and cause anemia. (iron deficiency)