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Zinc: The Basics

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Zinc: The Basic Functions

About Zinc: Increases taste acuity, enhances insulin action, stabilizes DNA, RNA and cell division. Low functional status of zinc is linked to negative alterations of the immune-inflammatory system, which can cause depression, impair learning and memory and reduce neurogenesis. Zinc also regulates synaptic plasticity (involved with learning and memory). Zinc has been shown to also play a role in the transmission of pain signals and neurotransmitters.

Neurological: Zinc acts as a cofactor for dopamine synthesis which affects mood and concentration.

Pain: Low blood levels of zinc have been associated with chronic pain in fibromyalgia patients.

Gastrointestinal: Decreases intestinal permeability and helps with maintaining the integrity of the intestinal wall and reducing inflammation.

Fertility– Adequate zinc is necessary for keeping adequate sperm count and quality. Zinc also helps with testosterone production.

Inflammation: Inflammation raises the demand for zinc. Cytokines also increase with low zinc, influencing to create more inflammation. 

Deficiency Presentation: Fatigue, pain, depression, dermatitis, acne, loss of taste, poor wound healing, anorexia, decreased immunity function, diarrhea, skeletal abnormalities, alopecia, behavioral disturbances, infertility, white spots on the nails, night blindness. Risk for deficiency with chronic dieting, alcohol use or chronic malnutrition.

Food sources

  • Hemp Seeds- 3 TBSP have 27-37% of Daily Values (source)
  • Cashews- 1 ounce has 15-20% of Daily Values (source)
  • Lentils- 3-4 ounces has 12-16% of Daily Values (source)
  • Baked Potato (with skin)- 1 potato has 9-13% of Daily Values (source)
  • Chocolate- 3 ounce bar has 35-40% of Daily Values (source)
  • Shellfish*- 6 Oysters have 300-400% of Daily Values (source), Alaskan King Crab 69-95% of Daily Values (source)

*on shellfish- we usually generally recommend limiting shellfish and instead focusing on omega 3 rich fish if you are including fish in the diet.

Interactions: Phytates and copper decrease absorption.