What is phytate? 2. Phytate-dependent intake recommendation for zinc
Zinc is an important trace element that is absorbed through the diet. But what does the body need the mineral for?? What happens if he gets too little or too much of it? And which foods are particularly good sources of zinc? EAT SMARTER clarifies!
What is zinc?
Zinc is a metal that is essential for human life as a trace element. It cannot be produced by the body itself. Only be stored in small quantities.
The mineral must therefore be regularly supplied in adequate amounts through the diet, as it performs many important functions for the body (1).
What the body needs zinc for?
Zinc is, among other things, a component of enzymes, with the help of which important reactions take place in the body and which are needed for proper functioning.
Zinc is needed, for example, in the production of energy from carbohydrates, protein or fats and also plays an important role in wound healing. It is also involved in cell growth and various metabolic processes as well as reproduction.
However, the trace element is best known for supporting the immune system and helping to fight off viruses and bacteria. In addition, zinc is an antioxidant that can render free radicals harmless to the body and thus reduce the development of diseases (1,2).
Many enzymes and metabolic processes can only function with the help of zinc. It is involved in cell growth, wound healing, immune defense and reproduction.
How much zinc should I consume daily?
The uptake of zinc into the cells depends on the so-called phytate, which is why the recommendations are also based on how much phytate is taken in with food. It reduces the absorption of zinc in the digestive tract – so the more phytate that is absorbed, the less zinc enters the body.
What is phytate?
Phytic acid occurs naturally in plants. It serves plants as a storehouse for minerals they need for germination. Therefore, high levels of phytate are found primarily in foods that are also used as seeds. These include, for example, whole grains and legumes such as beans, peas, lentils, soy and lupine.
Processing methods such as sprouting, soaking and sourdough fermentation can break down phytate, which facilitates zinc absorption. A simultaneous intake of animal proteins can also increase the bioavailability of zinc.
Phytate-dependent intake recommendation for zinc
Differentiate between low, medium, and high phytate intakes when recommending zinc intake:
Low phytate intakePhytate intake is considered low at about 330 milligrams per day in a diet low in whole grains, legumes and protein sources of primarily animal origin. It becomes little phytate. Thus much zinc ingested. Recommended in this diet for adult men is 11 milligrams and for women 7 milligrams of zinc.
Medium phytate intakeAn average phytate intake corresponds to 660 milligrams per day, which applies to a diet according to the whole-food diet, which includes meat, fish and whole grain products, or to a vegetarian or vegan diet with cereal products made from light flour, sourdough or germinated cereals. For men, 14. For women, 8 milligrams of zinc per day is recommended.
High phytate intakeIf 990 milligrams of phytate are consumed per day, a high intake and thus a lower zinc absorption is spoken of. Therefore, an increased zinc intake of 16 milligrams for men and 10 milligrams for women is recommended. High phytate intake occurs when many ungerminated or unfermented whole grains and legumes are consumed, as well as vegetable protein sources such as soy (3,4).
The absorption of zinc depends on the intake of phytate. For men, a daily intake of 11 to 16. For women 7 to 10 milligrams of zinc recommended.
What foods are good sources of zinc?
At the top of the list of zinc suppliers are oysters. Beef, cheese, milk and eggs are also rich in zinc.
Plant sources are primarily nuts, such as cashews and pecans, and wheat or rye germ (1).
How to cover your daily requirement
In order to be able to cover the recommended daily requirement of zinc in the diet, a varied and balanced diet is recommended. Even vegans and vegetarians can easily meet their daily requirements with a combination of selected foods rich in zinc and low in phytates.
Below is an example of a daily plan with an intake of 14 milligrams of zinc in total. Muesli with hazelnut, peach with cow's milk represent breakfast, wild rice with cod, mushrooms as well as spinach represent lunch and wholemeal rye bread with cheese, tomato and herbal curd cheese represent dinner.
Amount Food Zinc in milligrams
60 g muesli 1.53 25 g hazelnuts 0.52 200 g (1 glass) cow's milk (1.5% fat) 0.86 150 g peach 0.20 180 g wild rice, cooked 3.85 150 g cod, cooked 0, 72 200 g mushrooms, cooked 1.02 200 g spinach leaves, cooked 1.62 100 g tomato, raw 0.09 100 g (2 slices) wholemeal rye bread 1.53 30 g (1 slice) Gouda (min, 45 % fat i. Tr.) 1,28 50 g curd cheese (min. 10 % fat i. Tr.) 0,25 5 g chives 0,02 150 g raspberry 0,54 Total 14,03
Of course, this is only one example; zinc requirements can be met in many ways. You should primarily use regional products of the respective season, predominantly in organic quality.
Those who wish to avoid animal products and resort to plant-based alternatives should be aware that these often have a higher phytate content (1).
What are the specifics for zinc?
Zinc belongs to the metals and is therefore, compared to many other micronutrients, very insensitive to external environmental influences such as heat, light and water. Therefore, it is retained even when foods are processed or heated (5).
Zinc from foods is absorbed and utilized by the body to varying degrees. One speaks here of good or bad bioavailability. Thus, zinc from animal products has better bioavailability than from plant foods.
There are inhibitors that slow down zinc absorption. These include phytic acid or phytate, dietary fiber components such as cellulose, phosphates such as from processed cheese, sausage products and prepared foods, and tannins such as caffeine. High doses of copper, iron or calcium (especially from dietary supplements or medications) and alcohol consumption can also reduce the availability of zinc.
At the same time, however, there are also substances that promote zinc absorption. These include animal protein, for example from meat, fish and eggs, as well as cereals and legumes, small doses of organic acids from fruits and acidified foods, and inulin, a prebiotic fiber found, for example, in chicory and artichokes (6).
Zinc is not sensitive to environmental influences. However, its absorption can be inhibited or enhanced by other food components.
What happens in case of zinc deficiency?
Healthy adults can compensate relatively well for small fluctuations in zinc intake by absorbing larger amounts of the mineral from food and excreting less of it through the digestive tract.
However, if too little zinc is taken in over a long period of time, a zinc deficiency will result, which can have a variety of symptoms. Therefore, it is often difficult to filter out zinc deficiency as a cause. Since a zinc deficiency weakens the immune system, infections and numerous diseases are favored.
The signs of a deficiency include a weakened immune system, hormonal disorders, diseases of the skin, hair or nails, as well as disorders of the senses. Concentration problems, tiredness and fatigue can also be symptoms of a zinc deficiency (7, 8).
You can find more detailed information hereDetect and treat zinc deficiency
If you suspect a zinc deficiency, it is best to consult your family doctor. Whether there really is a deficiency can then be clarified by a blood test.
Zinc deficiency can result in a variety of symptoms. You can find out for sure by having your blood tested by your family doctor.
How does a zinc excess manifest itself?
If you have taken in too much zinc, the excess is normally excreted through digestion. However, if too much of the trace element is supplied on a permanent basis, the immune system can be impaired and metabolic processes can be severely disturbed. Blood formation is negatively influenced, so that anemia can even occur. Other signs of excess zinc include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, stomach irritation, and hypersensitivity to various foods.
With a varied diet, a surplus of zinc is quite unlikely. However, if zinc supplements and dietary supplements are consumed regularly, the body may be overwhelmed with excretion, and too much zinc may cause the symptoms described above to appear as symptoms of poisoning (9,10).
Too much zinc, especially from dietary supplements, can cause gastrointestinal problems and other symptoms of poisoning.
This is how zinc is used to fight diseases
Zinc is used primarily in combination with vitamin C to treat and prevent colds and strengthen the immune system.
Particularly in the colder months of the year, a sufficient supply of zinc in the diet can support the fight against colds and reduce their severity (9,11).
Zinc supports the immune system and can reduce the likelihood of the occurrence of colds as well as mitigate their course.
Can zinc help with weight loss?
Zinc is involved in the proper functioning of the carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism and thus boosts it. The performance of enzymes is also improved by sufficient zinc intake.
So if you want to lose weight, you should make sure your intake of the mineral is adequate. Deficiency can slow metabolism and enzyme activity, making weight loss more difficult (1,4).
Zinc supports metabolism and enzyme activity and should be supplied in sufficient quantities during weight reduction.
Are dietary supplements useful for the supply of zinc?
Supplementation with zinc preparations is generally only necessary in the case of a medically confirmed deficiency. If you have a cold or feel weak in the colder months, you can support your immune system with the help of dietary supplements.
However, it is better to cover one's zinc needs through food by including appropriate zinc-containing foods in the diet. In this way, the body naturally takes what it really needs and can easily eliminate small surpluses. Larger zinc surpluses due to fortified preparations can overtax the body and lead to symptoms of poisoning (9,10,11).
Dietary supplements such as zinc supplements are generally only recommended in the case of a medically confirmed deficiency or to support the immune system during the cold season.
Knowledge to go
Zinc is a vital trace element needed for proper metabolic function. A deficiency can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms. Is only confirmed by a medical examination. But too much of the trace element can also be dangerous and weaken the body.
With a varied and balanced diet, the need for zinc can be easily met. It is important to consider which other food components can inhibit or promote the absorption of zinc.