You may not know a whole lot about zinc, but you need it.

Though it doesn’t get as much attention as iron or calcium, don’t skimp on this dietary mineral. Zinc is a key component of healthy metabolism, reproduction, your immune system and more.

How Zinc Supports Your Health

Immune Function

It only takes a month-long zinc deficiency to cause problems with your immune system. Fortunately, most issues can be reversed, when proper zinc levels are resumed in the body. A Mediterranean-style diet appears to go along way in protecting people against deficiency.

Skin Health

Research revealed that a lack of zinc can produce a host of skin related problems, including acne, rashes, and canker sores. Again, once zinc was reinstituted in the diet, skin problems were reversed.

Sensory Organs

Serious zinc deficiency can lead to lost senses, specifically of taste and appetite. This degree of zinc deficiency is usually linked to cancer treatment or anorexia. Talk to your doctor if you develop this issue. Zinc is also vital to healthy vision.

Male Reproductive Health

The motility and number of sperm are greatly affected by zinc deficiency. It is important to maintain proper zinc levels to ensure quantity and quality of sperm production.

Zinc Food Sources

Because so many body systems rely on this mineral, it is crucial that you are conscious of your intake and work adequate amounts of zinc into your daily diet. Since no one food is considered an excellent source of zinc, you’ll need to eat a variety of zinc-infused foods in various food groups.

Oysters and shellfish are rich in zinc, and the most well-known food sources for the mineral. For Americans, red meat and poultry provides most of the zinc available on a daily basis. Lamb is the best source of zinc, following grass-fed beef.

Nuts and seeds are also rich in zinc. Try sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and cashews to boost zinc levels. Shiitake mushrooms, spinach, and asparagus are good plant-food sources. Quinoa and oats are the best zinc sources among the grains.

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