Zinc is a trace element and naturally occurring mineral that is essential for proper immune function as well as for maintaining healthy DNA.
Available in many different kinds of foods as well as in supplements, the recommended daily intake of zinc for adults is 8 – 11mg. Slightly low levels of zinc are common, so if you find that you get sick easily, or your skin isn’t as clear as you want it to be – you may want to pay attention to your zinc levels!
Below are three of the biggest benefits of daily zinc intake.
Health Benefits of Zinc
Increases Immunity and Fights Colds
One of the most common uses of zinc is to fight colds and generally strengthen the immune system. While many studies and researchers agree that zinc is effective in shortening the length of a cold, more work needs to be done to prove that zinc actually strengthens the immune system.
Acts as a Powerful Antioxidant
Zinc has strong antioxidant properties, meaning it helps protect cells in the body from damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are created by oxidation, which is a natural process in the body. But when there is an overabundance of free radicals (either from environmental toxicities, poor diet, stress, etc.), they can speed along to the aging process, as well as the development of a number of health problems, including degenerative diseases, heart disease, and cancer.
Antioxidants are important because they can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or help prevent some of the damage they cause. A study done by the School of Medicine at the University of Michigan found that levels of oxidative stress were significantly lower in a group of subjects who took zinc supplements for three months, as opposed to a placebo group. This is just one of many studies that illustrates zinc’s ability to be an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent.
Some studies suggest that taking zinc supplements may be a great internal remedy for easing acne.
Zinc helps regulate and control testosterone, which can play a role in hormonal acne. Zinc is also involved in the creation of collagen in the body, which helps to maintain skin’s elasticity and firmness by renewing skin cells. Healthy collagen function can help regulate oil levels under the skin, improving the appearance of one’s complexion.
Foods High In Zinc
While a high quality zinc supplement is a great addition to your daily routine, there are tastier ways to increase your zinc consumption.
Three of the best plant-based ways to get more zinc are: Pumpkin seeds (8.4mg in 1/8 cup), cashews (3.8mg in 1/2 cup), and spinach (1.4mg 1 cup). Yogurt, chicken, and grass-fed beef are also high in the mineral.
Smoothies High in Zinc
If you’re looking to drink your zinc, look no further than these delicious smoothie recipes!
Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Protein
This low calorie, high protein smoothie tastes like a milkshake, but thanks to healthy Omega-3s from pumpkin seeds, a boost to serotonin and endorphins from cacao, and copious amounts of vitamins from spinach (iron, vitamin K) banana (potassium), and pear (fiber), it’s the perfect healthy start to your day.
Orange Carrot Cashew
With around 190 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin A, and more than 60 percent of your recommended value of vitamin C, this smoothie is fantastic for both your skin and your immune system. With less fat than most other nuts, the majority of the fats that cashews do contain are monounsaturated fatty acids, the healthy fat that’s essential for a steady metabolism. Stay satisfied all day with this light meal replacement!
Spinach and Peach Energy Shot
Mesquite is not just for barbeque sauce. It actually has a soft, caramel flavor, making it a perfect addition to smoothies, and is a great source of fiber and protein. Grapes and peaches are hydrating, soothing fruits, and when paired with energizing spinach and oats, create a smoothie that goes down easy, and keeps you going all day!
All the heart healthy benefits of oatmeal in a cup, this low calorie smoothie will keep you satisfied for hours thanks to pumpkin seeds, which are little powerhouses of plant-based protein, fiber and healthy fats. Add in some skin-loving cinnamon and lucuma, and feel yourself glow from the inside out.
Blue Cashew Crush
Typically grown in South America with an appearance similar to blueberries, acai berries are extremely perishable stone fruits, which is why acai powder and acai juice are the most popular ways to consume them outside of their native habitat. With a healthy amount of fiber and antioxidants per serving, acai is helpful ally in the fight against wrinkles. Thanks to protein from cashews, more fiber from squash, and additional antioxidants thanks to blueberries, kiwi and an orange, this low fat smoothie is the perfect way to stay satisfied and energized for the whole day -- all while giving your complexion a boost!
Pear Kiwi Calm
Kiwis contain magnesium and help boost serotonin, two very important factors in mood regulation and stress relief. Pomegranate powder is full of helpful antioxidants, spinach is bursting with vitamins A, K and C, pumpkin seeds are powerhouses of plant-based protein, fiber and healthy fats, and a pear adds creaminess and more fiber. Start your day on a calm, balanced foot with this sweet treat.
Vanilla Banana Apple
The best way to turn a smoothie into a meal replacement is to make sure there’s an ample amount of healthy protein, fiber and fat. Both banana and apple are full of healthy fiber (as well as potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, and vitamin C), and a serving of vegan vanilla protein powder will help your muscles and your appetite. Add in some anti-inflammatory cinnamon, and some iron and vitamin K from spinach, and you have a perfectly tasty and balanced start to your day.
We call this one liquid gold because it’s nutritionally balanced, low in sugar, and fantastic for keeping you energized during busy days! Golden beets are a bit sweeter and less “earthy” tasting than a typical red beet, and are full of iron, potassium, and fiber. In addition to healthy Omega-3s, pumpkin seeds provide a nice serving of zinc, which has been shown to help with everything from boosting your immune system to creating clearer skin.
Reishi Cashew Power
Great for your immune system and liver, reishi mushrooms have been described as having “lifespan-extending properties” because they’re helpful in preventing abnormal blood vessels from forming. High in fiber, vitamins K and C, and antioxidants, collard greens are one of the most nutritious greens you can eat. Combine these ultra-potent foods with fiber from a pear, polyphenol-heavy grapes, and healthy fat and protein from cashews, and you’ve got the Fountain of Youth in a glass!
Full of fiber and vitamin A, mangoes add a sweet, tropical flair to smoothies. Unsweetened coconut flakes also add a tropical touch, as well as help make your smoothie thick and creamy. Hemp seeds provide healthy Omega-3s and Omega 6 fatty acids, squash provides more fiber, and baby spinach tops everything off with a dose of vitamins A, C, E and K, iron, copper and manganese.