Zinc is considered by many to be the "all-rounder of nutrients". It is important for a multitude of significant tasks in the body. From the immune system, to metabolism, to childbearing, many areas are directly dependent on the supply of zinc. But here always threatens a deficiency.
Because the body can not meet the need for zinc itself. Therefore zinc must be taken up over the food. Therefore, many foods are available that can cover the daily requirement of zinc. The wide range of products containing zinc, u. a. various types of cheese, beef, oysters or lentils, make it possible to take ca. 7-12 milligrams of the daily requirement versatile to cover.
But how do you recognize early on that you are taking in too little zinc?? Is zinc worthwhile as a dietary supplement? We answer these and more questions in the following article!
What is zinc?
Zinc is an important or. essential trace element for humans. Even if we only need small amounts of it, humans are nevertheless dependent on zinc. Trace elements are elements that are found only in small quantities in food and in the organism. This is less than 0.01% of the body weight. However, the storage of zinc in the cells is only short-lived. The body cannot produce it itself. Therefore, zinc must be taken in through food, otherwise a zinc deficiency will result.
A zinc deficiency can lead to numerous symptoms and unpleasant after-effects come. Zinc is a component of numerous enzymes, which are essential for the function of various mechanisms in our body. Furthermore, zinc is involved in protein, carbohydrate, fat and also nucleic acid metabolism. In addition, zinc has a great importance for immune-. Hormone reactions as well as in gene expression. Zinc is therefore involved in countless biochemical processes.
In this video Dr. Dr. Tobias Weigl in his video visit the importance of zinc and the possible problems that can arise from zinc deficiency!
Zinc: Function in the body
Zinc for the immune system
The supply of zinc is elementary important for the formation of immune cells. Zinc is involved in both the cellular and the humoral immune defense system. It occupies the so-called ICAM receptors of the nasal mucosa and displaces the rhinoviruses that are responsible for a cold. Studies have shown that an adequate supply of zinc reduces the effective duration of illness in the case of colds and attenuates the symptoms.
Zinc supply limits the activity of various immune cells. Especially T-helper, T-killer and natural killer cells depend on zinc storage in the body. Since these cells are formed rapidly and are not particularly long-lived, the zinc store must be filled regularly.
CautionZinc deficiency is particularly common in seniors, where it is a double problem: the immune system is already weakened because it weakens with age and is now additionally undersupplied. This greatly increases the likelihood of infection.
Zinc for the metabolism
Zinc influences metabolism in various ways. It is important for the formation or degradation of various neurotransmitters. These are messenger substances that transmit signals in the nervous system. Thus, zinc effectively regulates the body's response to signals. Reducing excitability is important in relation to diseases such as epilepsy or febrile convulsions.
All senses are dependent on zinc supply. In particular, the sense of sight, hearing, smell and taste. Age-related macular degeneration can be attenuated by taking zinc. How to preserve your vision longer in old age. Zinc can improve sperm production. Sperm motility is increased. Zinc also plays a major role in the formation of testosterone. For this reason, fertility problems or a reduced libido can also occur with a zinc deficiency. Zinc has a high influence on the "behavior" of the sperm during penetration of the female genital tract on the way to the egg cell. In case of zinc deficiency, sperm may "jump-start" – they use up their energy before reaching the egg cell and thus become slower overall. Consequently, with sufficient zinc intake, sperm quality is higher than with zinc deficiency.
Good to know!
Zinc, when taken, can lead to an improvement in sperm quality and thus increase fertility. In addition to zinc, vitamins C, E and folic acid are also said to have a positive effect on male reproductive function.
Zinc: Daily reference values
To find out your own zinc level, you need to have a blood sample taken by a doctor. In the laboratory this blood is then examined. Two different blood samples are distinguished, namely the blood sample of the Whole blood and that of the Serum/plasma. Accordingly, the zinc normal values are also different for both variants.
The following table shows the two normal value ranges:
Blood testNorm value whole blood4.0-7.5 mg/dl serum/plasma0.6-1.2 mg/dl
The daily requirement for men is approximately 10-16 mg and for women 7-13 mg. People who consume particularly large amounts of ungerminated or unfermented whole grain products have an increased zinc requirement. Whole grain products contain phytate, which binds zinc in the intestine and makes it unusable for the body. Therefore, since 2019, there is a new table with recommended values for zinc intake:
Zinc intakein mg/day male female
low phytate intake medium phytate intake high phytate intake low phytate intake medium phytate intake high phytate intake Adults1114167810 Pregnant women
1. Trimester 7911 2. and 3. Trimester 91113 Breastfeeding 111314
It is also important to mention that in certain stages of life or in special circumstances, the zinc requirement can also be significantly higher. For example, during the growth phase, i.e. in childhood, or during pregnancy. An increased requirement is also observed in infectious diseases, as the body's own processes are usually accelerated and thus the enzyme turnover is increased.
These 10 foods contain a lot of zinc
There is a rich array of different foods available for zinc supplementation. Meat and fish products are available, as well as vegetables and nuts. Thus also vegetarians or vegans can supply their zinc balance sufficiently. Do not necessarily have to resort to dietary supplements. However, be careful with vegan diets: If you eat a lot of non-germinated or unfermented whole grain products, your zinc requirement increases slightly, because the absorption capacity in the intestine is reduced.
The ten most popular foods containing zinc can be found in the list below:
Oysters: 27.7 milligrams per 100g Emmental5,8 milligrams per 100g Beef: 5 milligrams per 100g Gouda: 4,3 milligrams per 100g Brazil nuts: 3.9 milligrams per 100g Lentils: 3.6 milligrams per 100g Oatmeal: 3.6 milligrams per 100g Peanuts: 2,8 milligrams per 100g Corn: 1.5 milligrams per 100g Mixed wheat bread: 1,2 milligrams per 100g
Symptoms of zinc deficiency
The symptoms of zinc deficiency are manifold. Since zinc is involved in many processes in the body, there are also many gaps when the supply once fails. Especially Growth-, Odor-, and also Taste disorders are the consequences. In addition, the immune system weakened which makes patients more susceptible to disease.
There may also be absent or decreased hormonal activity of the testis due to dysfunction of the gonads (so-called. hypogonadism), which in turn has consequences for libido, potency, and the Fertility has.
Another consequence of zinc deficiency is manifested in Wound healing disorders, dry or scaly skin, eczema or acne. In general, skin disorders are typical signs of zinc deficiency, as skin health is largely dependent on zinc supply.
Known (and infamous for many) are zinc ointments used for the Wound care, as zinc can support wound healing. Nails and hair can also be affected by zinc deficiency. Nails characteristically become brittle. splintering or white spots. Hair can also become brittle or even fall out.