Zinc is one of the most important microelements for the optimal functioning of the human body. Where should we look for it and why is it so important? Our body can’t store zinc, that’s why it is one of the significant nutrients that we must necessarily receive from the outside.
Its functional responsibilities are great:
- it takes part in gene expression;
- activates the work of more than 200 enzymes;
- it’s a structural component of proteins, hormones, neuropeptides and hormone receptors;
- takes part in wound healing and body growth;
- it’s required for the proper functioning of the immune system;
- zinc deficiency can lead to a violation of taste and smell;
- reduces the oxidative stress and inflammation reactions in the body;
- maintains the work of sex hormones, primarily the testosterone;
- affects the skin health, as its deficiency can cause acne;
- takes part in carbohydrate metabolism, which means the prevention of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes;
- maintains the normal thyroid functioning.
All these functions are particularly important for athletes, since under the influence of intensive training, the immune system can suffer, injuries and inflammatory reactions inside the body can develop.
So where should we look for zinс? In the first place, it is in food, of course.
The athlete's food basket should always contain zinc rich foods.
- seafood - oysters, mussels, crab, lobster;
- fish - sardines, salmon family;
- meat and its co-products - veal, beef, turkey, chicken;
- legumes - lentil, chickpeas, peas, dark beans;
- nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, cashews;
- dairy products - hard and aged kinds of cheese;
- cereals - quinoa, oats, wild rice;
- some vegetables - mushrooms, green peas, asparagus, kale.
It is worth remembering that zinc is more bioavailable and easier absorbed by the body from animal products, than from the plant-based ones. Since the latter contain substances that slow down the absorption of zinc. In order to get the maximum benefit from cereals and legumes, they should be soaked for several hours.
In case of severe deficiencies, it is necessary to consult a doctor. Do not take zinc supplements on your own, as they can be toxic if the dosage was incorrectly selected.
Zinc overdose symptoms may be as follows:
- nausea, vomiting;
- loss of appetite;
- the decrease of the immune system function;
- abdominal cramps.
Please note that zinc supplementation can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients, especially copper.
Drinking alcohol greatly reduces zinc in the body.
Getting zinc from nutrition is not so difficult if your diet is balanced, varied and made up of the right foods. Dark chocolate also contains a small amount of zinc, but keep in mind the fact that it has about 600 calories, therefore it is not always reasonably to choose this particular product in order to cover the needs for this microelement. But a sufficient protein amount in your daily diet can maintain zinc levels at an optimal rate.
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