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Zinc: The Usually Forgotten Micronutrient We Need Daily and Its Food Source

Zinc: The Usually Forgotten Micronutrient We Need Daily and Its Food Source

Zinc, as you may know, is a metal. It is also important that you get it into your diet. On this page, we are going to talk a little bit about the benefits of zinc, before we cover some of the best foods to get some zinc into your diet.

Why do you need zinc in your diet?

When most people think about getting zinc into their diet, they think about the job of zinc as a natural cold remedy. However, the purpose of the mineral is a lot more important than this. It can help with the following:

  • Assists with the production of hormones in your body
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Helps digestion
  • Acts as an anti-inflammatory which could help to reduce pain in your body
  • Can assist with preventing some forms of cancer
  • Can tackle heat disease

Those who have a zinc deficiency, even a small amount, are at an increased risk of diabetes or infertility. Basically, it is a very important nutrient.

How much zinc should you consume?

You do not need that much zinc in your body each day. Adult males will require at least 11mg a day. Adult females around 8 milligrams. Children will need slightly less, but we are going to firmly focus on adults here.

However, we do want to note that in babies, the combination of Zinc and Vitamin K benefits [1] them incredibly. While they do not serve the same purpose, neither of them can be found in human breast milk. As a result, it is likely that the child will need to get them into their diet in some other way to promote normal development.

Top 10 Food with A Rich Source of Zinc

Let’s take a little look at a list of some of the best zinc-containing foods, shall we?

Oysters

    You will find 32mg of zinc in 6 raw oysters. This is 400% the RDA. This means that oysters are the best source of zinc around.

    You can cook your oysters however you want. We like to keep things simple, however. We suggest that you fry them with a few herbs and maybe some cheese drizzled over the top. You can also throw the oysters into a good fish stew. While you can eat oysters raw, it is not recommended.

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    Recommended Recipe: Pan Fried Oysters

    Beef

      There is 7mg of zinc in 3 ounces of braised chuck roast.

      In addition to the zinc, you will also find vitamin B12, a much-needed vitamin for keeping your skin cells healthy.

      You can cook your beef in a variety of different ways. Some people like to make hamburgers (bake, don’t fry), while others like to make a stew. We prefer the latter route as it means that you will be able to incorporate a few vegetables into the mix too.

      Recommended Recipe: Jool’s Favourite Beef Stew

      Crab

        There is 4.7 mg of zinc in a single can of blue crab meat. You will also find vitamin A, B, C and magnesium.

        Probably the best way in which to heat your crab meat is in a salad. It is not especially luxurious, but it works. Some people also like to throw it into a stir fry.

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        Recommend Recipe: Crab Salad

        Breakfast Cereal

          There are some breakfast cereals which have been fortified with zinc. The exact quantity of zinc will be dependent on the cereal that you are buying.

          We don’t really have a recipe to share with you here. Cereal is cereal. To make the most out of it, though, put milk on the cereal (low fat!). This will give you an extra helping of zinc.

          Lobster

            There is 3.4mg of zinc in 3 ounces of cooked lobster. In addition to this, you will receive a generous helping of your daily amount of B12, 32% of your family protein needs, and 8% of the all the calcium required.

            Lobsters can be prepared in several different ways. Some people love to incorporate them into salads. Others like to make sandwiches. You can even eat the lobster right out of the shell. This is why our recommended list covers several different recipes.

            Recommended recipes: 28 Different Lobster Recipes

            Pork Chop

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              You will find 2.9mg of zinc in 3 ounces of cooked pork chops. Pork chops are low in fat but high in protein. They contain choline which can be tough to get elsewhere. This is a nutrient which is known to have a positive impact on long-term memory.

              If you want to get the most out of your pork chops, we suggest that you bake or grill them. While you can fry them, it is likely that the frying will undo some of the healthier benefits.

              Recommended recipe: Marinated Baked Pork Chops

              Cashews

                There is 1.6 mg of zinc in 1 ounce of dry roasted peanuts. You will also find that these nuts are high in folate, vitamin K, and provide you with a significant amount of iron.

                Most people eat their cashews ‘raw’. Do not eat them salted. You can, however, also incorporate them into a salad or a stir fry. These are both fantastic if you are looking to ensure a healthy mix of nutrients in your diet.

                Recommended Recipe: Gingery Thai Kale Salad with Cashew Dressing

                Chickpeas

                  There is 1.3mg of zinc per ½ cup of cooked chickpeas. There is also protein, fiber, and a whole host of healthy fats.

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                  One of the great things about chickpeas is that you can use them in so many different ways. For example; if you are a vegetarian, you will be able to incorporate them into any dish which requires meat. They are a great substitute. We love to eat them as a hummus dip, though. You will then be able to dip some raw vegetables into them for a great boost in vitamins and minerals!

                  Recommended Recipe: Easy Hummus Peas

                  Chicken

                    There is 2.4mg of zinc in 3 ounces of dark meat. You will also find a healthy dose of protein and vitamin B6.

                    You probably already know of several recipes which you can use for chicken. The possibilities are limitless. You can bake it. You can fry it. You can make it into a salad. You can roast it. We love the salad option as, once again, it means that you will be able to get more nutrients into your diet.

                    Recommended Recipe: Chicken Salad

                    Almonds

                      There is 0.9mg of zinc in 1 ounce of dry roasted almonds. Not the highest amount, but the other minerals you can get will more than make up for that. You will also find magnesium, omega-3, and vitamin E. To cap it off, there is also some protein.

                      The only real way in which you can eat those almonds is straight out of the packet. They make a delightful snack. You can also sprinkle them over a salad if you are that way inclined.

                      Reference

                      More by this author

                      Junie Rutkevich

                      Game Developer of iXL Digital

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                      Last Updated on June 18, 2018

                      What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

                      What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

                      Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

                      Video Summary

                      Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

                      Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

                      Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

                      Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

                      This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

                      Sitting Is the New Smoking

                      Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

                      The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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                      Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

                        Sit Properly

                        If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

                        Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

                          Credit: StayWow

                          Stand Up More

                          Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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                          Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

                          Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

                          Or get a standing desk.

                          One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

                          Exercise for Lower Back Pain

                          Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

                          But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

                          The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

                          Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

                          Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

                          This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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                          Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

                          Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

                          There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

                          Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

                          I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

                          Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

                          If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

                          Where to Start

                          The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

                          Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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                          If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

                          Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

                          Keep a straight back.

                          Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

                          Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

                          I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

                          If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

                          Stay Away From the Back Pain League

                          Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

                          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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