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More about Zinc

Good sources of Zinc

lean meat
seafood - especially oysters
wheat germ

When we cook food, much of the zinc may go into the water, as do other minerals and vitamins, so the cooking liquids, especially from vegetables, should be consumed as well. More importantly, when foods are processed, as in the refining of grains, much of the zinc is lost, along with manganese, chromium, molybdenum, and B vitamins. Usually, only iron and sometimes vitamins B1 and B2 are added back in "enriched" foods (and this iron isn't even in the easily usable form). Adding zinc, manganese, chromium, and more B vitamins such as B6, would be much better and help us avoid common deficiencies.

Zinc absorption may vary from about 20-40 percent of ingested zinc, depending mainly on body needs and stomach acid concentrations. Like iron, zinc from animal foods where it is bound with proteins has been shown to be better absorbed. When bound with the phytates or oxalates found in grains and vegetables, less zinc is absorbed. Calcium, phosphorus, copper, iron, lead, and cadmium all compete with zinc for absorption. Milk and eggs reduce zinc absorption. Fiber foods, bran, and phytates, found mainly in the outer covering of grains, may also inhibit zinc absorption. Phytic acid may combine with the zinc in the upper intestine before this mineral can be absorbed.

The zinc-cadmium relationship is interesting. Cadmium is considered a potentially toxic heavy metal. When it contaminates our food, it is found in the center of grain; zinc is found mainly in the grain covering. So eating whole grains, which have a higher amount of zinc than of cadmium, will reduce any possible absorption of cadmium. With refining of grains into flour, the zinc-cadmium ratio is decreased, and cadmium is more likely to be absorbed and cause problems.

In the human body, the 2.5 grams of zinc are stored in a variety of tissues. It is most concentrated in the prostate and semen, which suggests zinc's tie to male sexual function (impotence can be related to low zinc). The next most concentrated tissues are the retina of the eye, heart, spleen, lungs, brain, and adrenal glands. The skin contains a high amount of zinc, but it is less concentrated than in the organ tissues. Nails, hair, and teeth also have some zinc, and this mineral is important to those tissues as well.

Zinc is eliminated through the gastrointestinal tract in the feces. Some is also eliminated in the urine; alcohol use increases urinary losses of zinc. Zinc is also lost in the sweat, possibly as much as 2-3 mg. in a day. Stress, burns, surgery, and weight loss all seem to increase body losses of zinc.

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