Zinc Food Sources
Zinc is essential to help with milk production and for balancing hormones (Pfeiffer 1978). As well as helping the baby’s growth, it has been found that zinc-deficient mothers have a greater incident of complications at birth and of birth defects, and an increased risk of needing a caesarean section (Sven 1984). Zinc deficiency is linked to undescended testicles in boys.
Zinc and copper are antagonistic and, as copper levels rise naturally in pregnancy, zinc needs to be supplemented. Daily requirement in pregnancy is around 20mg, although most women get less than half of this from their diet. The common use of phosphate fertilisers prevents plants from absorbing zinc from the soil – another good reason for eating organic vegetables and fruit. Zinc deficiency is one of the major factors in low birth weight. Professor Bryce-Smith (1986) believes that any baby born weighing below 2.98kg (6-lb. 9 oz) should be suspected of having zinc deficiency.
In addition to its role in preventing defects & low birth weight, zinc is needed for cell division & growth, maintaining hormone levels & keeping the immune system healthy. Zinc deficiency inhibits metabolism of vitamin A & may also be a cause of morning sickness (Pfeiffer 1978, Sven 1984). The best dietary sources are meat & liver, so vegetarians are likely to be zinc deficient.
Deficiency may cause or be associated with:
Acne, amnesia, anorexia nervosa, brittle nails, changes in the cerebellum & hippocampus, depletion of B-cell & T-cells, depression, dermatitis, growth failure, hair loss, hypercholesterolemia, hypogonadism, impaired wound healing, impotence, increased developmental disorders, learning disorders, loss of appetite, loss of taste & smell, moodiness, neuropsychological impairment, poor concentration, poor immunity, poor memory, sleep problems, sterility, white spots on finer nails, viral infections.
Food sources: Meat (particularly beef & lamb), Liver, Herring, Oysters, Eggs, Turkey, Ginger, Brazil nuts, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin & sprouted seeds, almonds & other nuts, soya beans, peas, watercress, wheat bran & Wheat germ. Citric acid in oranges increases zinc absorption.
Recommended Daily allowance: 15mg
Supplementary Range: 10 – 100mg
RDA by age:
10 yrs or less 10mg
10 yrs or more 15mg