Coastal Living

Like oysters? If so, you may want to eat them more often because they have a lot of zinc.

The mineral zinc has received a lot of attention since the covid-19 pandemic began. Zinc is an essential nutrient, meaning that your body can not produce zinc, so it must be consumed daily through food or supplements. Zinc has been shown to be particularly beneficial to immune status as it is a key factor in the development, function and activity of immune cells.

Zinc helps your body fight germs and helps make protein to repair your body. If you do not get enough zinc from the foods you eat, it can cause problems like hair loss, problems with wound healing, and loss of taste. Zinc is especially important during pregnancy.  This mineral is necessary for the activity of more than three hundred enzymes that are used in metabolism, digestion of food, nerve and other functions.

The amount of zinc your body needs each day is measured in milligrams. Men, nineteen years and older, and women who are pregnant need eleven milligrams each day. Women who are breastfeeding need twelve milligrams each day. Other women need eight milligrams each day.

Most people can get enough zinc from food. Cooked oysters are an excellent source of zinc with fifty-two milligrams in three ounces.  Today we can buy oysters fresh, frozen or canned.  So, if you like oysters, it is a good idea to include them in your meal plan. Crab and lobster are both good sources of zinc. Per three ounce serving, Alaskan king crab packs in about six milligrams and lobster provides about three milligrams. Certain types of fish, such as sardines, salmon, flounder, and sole, also contain zinc, but in less potent doses.

Red meat, like beef, is considered a good source of zinc. Beef, such as chuck, is not close to the zinc content of oysters but does have slightly more than nine milligrams in three ounces.  If you are not fond of eating oysters or other seafood, by eating red meat, poultry, fortified breakfast cereals to which zinc has been added, beans, nuts and whole grains you should be able to meet the recommended daily amount.

Sometimes you may need more zinc than what you can get from food. You may need a zinc supplement if you are vegetarian or age fifty or older. Certain medical conditions can create a need for zinc supplements. For example, alcoholism, digestive problems like chronic diarrhea, stomach or intestinal surgery, kidney disease, large wounds or burns.

Talk to your primary care provider about taking zinc. Note that taking zinc supplements for a long period of time or regularly taking cold remedies with zinc can cause anemia. If you are taking medications, zinc could interact with some of them. Let your primary care provider know if you are taking any dietary supplements.

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