What it does:

  • Promotes cell reproduction and tissue growth and repair. Adequate zinc intake is essential for growth.
  • Associated with more than two hundred enzymes.
  • Helps your body use carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Ifyou don'tget enough: A deficiency during childhood can impair growth, and during pregnancy can cause birth defects. Other symptoms include appetite loss, skin changes, and reduced resistance to infections.

Ifyou consume excess amounts: Too much zinc from dietary supplements can have harmful side effects, including impaired copper absorption. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for zinc is 34 milligrams daily for teens ages fourteen to eighteen, and 40 milligrams daily for adults.

How much you need: The RDA for males is 11 milligrams daily for ages fourteen on. For females it's 9 milligrams daily for teens ages fourteen to eighteen, and 8 milligrams daily during adulthood. During pregnancy the recommendation increases to 13 milligrams daily for teens, and 11 milligrams daily for adults; during breast-feeding, 14 milligrams and 12 milligrams daily, respectively.

Where it's mostly found: Good sources of zinc include foods of animal origin, including meat, seafood, and liver. Eggs and milk supply zinc in smaller amounts.

Whole-grain products, wheat germ, black-eyed peas, and fermented soybean paste (miso) also contain zinc, but in a form that's less available to the body.

Food Zinc (mg)

Wheat bran (V2 cup) 2

Sunflower seeds (1 oz.) 1.5 Black-eyed peas, frozen, boiled (V2 cup) 1

Peanut butter (2 tbsp.) 0.9 Tuna, canned, packed in water (3 oz.) 0.7

Whole-wheat bread (1 slice) 0.5

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