Zinc is an essential mineral that needs love too!
As a matter of fact, it’s required for the functions of over 300 enzymes and involved in many important processes in your body. It metabolizes nutrients, maintains your immune system and grows and repairs body tissues. It also plays an important role in the menstrual cycle.
Zinc helps keep your ovaries healthy. It is needed to produce essential menstrual cycle hormones, FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) which are both vital for developing and releasing an egg during ovulation.
Our bodies do not store zinc so you need it from your diet to maintain adequate hormone levels. Zinc also helps to produce sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone.
Most women need about 8 mg as a daily requirement but women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may have a slightly increased need for zinc. The best way to ensure you are getting enough is to incorporate food sources of zinc regularly in your eating routine.
Here are some food sources of zinc to try out, if you’d like:
- Meat – Meat is a source of zinc, but ample amounts can be found in all different kinds of meat, like beef, lamb and pork. It also contains other important nutrients like iron and B vitamins, too.
- Legumes – Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and beans have varying amounts of zinc. They can be an important source of zinc for people following vegan or vegetarian diets. They are also high in protein and fiber and can be easily added to soups, stews and salads. Processing methods like heating, sprouting, soaking or fermenting can help improve its bioavailability.
- Shellfish – Shellfish like oysters, crab, mussels and shrimp can all contribute to your daily zinc need.
- Seeds – Some seeds like pumpkin, squash and sesame seeds contain significant amounts of zinc. They have fiber, healthy fats and vitamins, making them a wonderful addition to your eating plan.
- Nuts – Nuts like peanuts, cashews and almonds contain zinc, but not only that, they are crunchy, nutritious and a convenient snack too!
- Tofu – Tofu is a source of zinc. Cook it up and try it in your favorite recipes.
Other sources of zinc include eggs, dark chocolate, dairy products, some vegetables like potatoes, some fortified foods such as yogurts, cereals and oats and shiitake mushrooms. This isn’t a complete list, do check out this zinc fact sheet for more food options.
Each of the foods listed in this article have substantial amounts of zinc that can all be part of a balanced eating routine.
The content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or personal dietitian with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.