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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diet and Nutrition > Zinc in the Diet: Functions and Sources
      Category : Health Centers > Food, Nutrition, and Metabolism

Zinc in the Diet

Zinc in the Diet | Functions and Sources

What food source is the nutrient found in?

The best sources of zinc include animal foods such as oysters, extra-lean meats, poultry, fish, and organ meats. Dairy products and eggs supply zinc in smaller amounts.

Whole-grain products, wheat germ, black-eyed peas, beans, nuts, seeds, and fermented soybean paste (miso) also contain zinc. However, the form of the mineral that is found in these foods cannot be used as well by the body. The zinc in breast milk is better absorbed in infants than that found in infant formulas or cow's milk.

Specific sources of zinc include:

  • oysters (6 medium) = 49.8 milligrams (mg)
  • beef, ground lean (3 ounces) = 4.6 mg
  • turkey, dark meat (3 ounces) = 3.8 mg
  • raisin bran (1 cup) = 3.0 mg
  • milk, lowfat (1 cup) = 1 mg
  • almonds (1 ounce) = 1 mg
  • How does the nutrient affect the body?

    Zinc is required for many of the body's functions. It makes up part of more than 200 enzymes in the body. Enzymes are proteins that enable certain chemical reactions to take place in the body. Zinc is crucial for proper growth. It promotes cell reproduction and tissue growth and repair. This is needed for wound healing. Zinc is also key to the proper working of the immune system.

    Zinc has many other functions, as well. It helps to:

  • detoxify alcohol in the liver
  • assists in the making of proteins
  • aids in the proper use of insulin to help control blood glucose levels
  • helps in normal taste perception
  • Zinc also helps the body turn carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into energy.

    Taking the recommended amounts of zinc may aid in the metabolism of vitamin D and calcium. This could help reduce bone loss, such as osteoporosis. Zinc also assists in moving vitamin A through the blood.

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    Zinc in the Diet: Overview & Description


    Author: Kimberly Tessmer, RD, LD
    Reviewer: Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 09/30/02

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