When you tell people you’re vegan, chances are they ask you if you get enough important nutrients in your diet. One of these must-haves is zinc. Here is how to get more of it and why your body needs it.
Zinc helps to keep many bodily functions working at their peak, such as blood sugar levels, cell division, and metabolic rates. One of the problems with trying to find enough zinc when you don’t eat meat is that high sources of this nutrient can be found in animal products. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get enough zinc from vegan sources!
Here are some top zinc-packed foods:
- 1. Sunflower seeds
- 2. Tempura
- 3. Wheat germ
- 4. Raw crimini mushrooms
- 5. Spinach
- 6. Beans
If you are not getting enough zinc from your diet, there are supplements you can take. However, it’s important to consult with your doctor before taking them as your practitioner will be able to take blood tests to discover if you are indeed deficient in zinc and could benefit from a supplement. It’s important not to have too much zinc either so it's best to know exactly how much you need - remember that supplements are not fit for everyone in the same way!
Think you might be battling a zinc deficiency? Here are some signs:
- 1. A loss of appetite
- 2. Lower immunity (such as falling ill with colds and flus often)
- 3. Weight loss
- 4. Lesions affecting the skin and eyes
- 5. Diarrhoea
- 6. Strange sense of smell or taste
To prevent deficiencies it’s good to know exactly how much zinc you require on daily basis. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is:
- - Women from the age of 19 and older should have 8 mg of zinc
- - Men from the age of 19 and older should have 11 mg of zinc
- - Pregnant women should have between 11 and 12 mg of zinc
- - Lactating women should strive for between 12 and 12 mg of zinc
Along with eating foods containing zinc such as those listed above, you want to try to incorporate healthy lifestyle choices that will ensure the zinc you consume is absorbed and used efficiently in the body. Here are some tips:
- 1. Don’t over-consume caffeine and alcohol. Both make you urinate more, which makes your body release zinc.
- 2. Avoid overcooking your food as heat will diminish the nutrients in it.
- 3. Eat more unprocessed foods. This means switching from white flour and white bread to brown varieties that contain more nutrients.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.