5-Minute Health Tip: Eat Foods High in Zinc

Zinc is much more than an immune booster that kicks colds and flus to the curb. It’s an antioxidant powerhouse that neutralizes the free radicals that accelerate aging and cause disease…and the most up-to-date science shows that zinc also helps strengthen the health of your heart.

Zinc Boosts Heart Health 

Collage of products containing zinc
Collage of products containing zinc

Researchers from the University of Leicester showed that zinc boosts heart health by regulating calcium that moves in your heart cells, and in doing so protects against heart failure and fatal arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat). They studied individual heart cells and found that zinc influences type-2 ryanodine receptors (RyR2), thereby helping to control calcium levels. RyR2 receptors act as gates that, when functioning properly, release appropriate levels of calcium through your heart cells. Without adequate zinc, excessive calcium can be released through the gates, greatly increasing the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event.

Samantha Pitt, a Royal Society of Edinburgh Biomedical Fellow at the University’s School of Medicine, told Medical Xpress:

“Our discovery provides a mechanistic explanation of how zinc plays a key role in regulating heart muscle contractility and how imbalances in zinc may contribute to diseases such as heart failure and fatal arrhythmias.”

Previous research suggests a strong link between congestive heart failure and zinc deficiency.

Zinc for Optimum Health

Zinc is the second most abundant mineral in the body next to iron. It’s found in every cell of your body, and in over 3000 different proteins and 300 different enzymes. Zinc strengthens immune function and works with vitamin A to improve your vision. It’s even been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Studies suggest that zinc is partly responsible for preventing the accumulation of clumps of defective proteins in your brain that have been shown to contribute to Alzheimer’s.

Zinc also helps keep your sense of taste and smell in tact. You need zinc to produce a key enzyme in taste and smell called carbonic anhydrase (CA) V1. Loss of taste and smell is a common symptom of zinc deficiency, and an estimated 15% of elderly experiencing loss of smell are zinc deficient!

Dietary Zinc

Approximately 12% of Americans are at risk for zinc deficiency, with that number skyrocketing to 40% of elderly individuals. The RDA for adult men is 11 mg of zinc a day and for adult women 8 mg of zinc per day.

Shore up your zinc levels with:

  • Oysters
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Poultry
  • Raw cheese (gouda or Swiss)
  • Wild-caught seafood and shellfish
  • Raw milk
  • Kefir yogurt
  • Beans
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds

The body more easily absorbs zinc from animal-based foods, perhaps because bioavailability is increased when zinc is consumed alongside protein. Soak and sprout sesame and pumpkin seeds in order to increase your body’s ability to absorb zinc.