As ever-eluding fall in Florida is around the corner, we have to take extra efforts to build up our immunity. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are required in small quantities in our bodies but they are essential to orchestrate physiological functions, prevention of diseases and well-being in the body. Micronutrients are not produced in our bodies so they must be derived from the diet. Dietary trace minerals amounts generally less than 100 mg/day.
This month’s spotlight is on Zinc.
Background on zinc
It is an important mineral essential for human functioning. The recommended daily intake for males is 11mg and female 8mg. Zinc plays a vital role in many aspects of the immune system. It helps in cell division, clotting, healing wounds, DNA synthesis, growth and development of the fetus, and protein synthesis. Aging is characterized by inflammation in brain, midsection and eyes. Zinc controls inflammation and therefore it is rightly called anti-aging molecule. It is an important element to maintain sexual function, preventing hair loss and for optimal skin glow.
Zinc nutrition deficiency is insufficient availability of zinc in the diet or can be caused due to the malabsorption of zinc by the body. The inherent gastrointestinal problems, liver disease, kidney diseases and certain other conditions and drugs can prevent zinc absorption by the body, causing a zinc deficiency. Although severe zinc deficiency is quite rare, the Linus Pauling Institute estimates that up to 2 billion people are affected by marginal zinc levels, which can affect virtually every aspect of your health. There is no laboratory test for mild zinc deficiency.
Signs of zinc deficiency include:
Diarrhea, weak immunity, hair loss, mental lethargy, lack of appetite, loss of smell or taste, poor wound healing, etc. If zinc deficiency is suspected, diet should be assessed and zinc intake should be increased by 150 percent of recommended dietary allowance. Zinc citrate and zinc gluconate are the most reliable forms of zinc supplements. Avoid taking a supplement of more than the upper tolerable intake level (UL) of 40 mg per day as that can prevent absorption of copper.
Food sources of zinc
Because zinc is not stored in our body, it is necessary to take enough from the diet on daily basis. A wide variety of foods contain zinc and good sources usually have 1-2 mg per serving. Oysters contain more than any other food (74 mg/serving), but red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc. Other food sources high in zinc include beans, nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products. Although amino acids found in proteins generally improve zinc absorption, the protein casein has a slight inhibitory effect, so you may want to avoid consuming dairy products at the same time as you consume zinc-rich foods.
Phytates, which are present in whole-grain breads, cereals, legumes, and other foods bind zinc and inhibit its absorption. Soaking and sprouting beans, grains and seeds reduce phytate.
Recipe of the month
- Nori wraps – 1 pack.
- Chickpeas spouted, boiled and lightly mashed, seasoned with cumin and red pepper.
- ½ block Tofu cut into long strips, stir fried with sweet and sour sauce, black sesame seeds.
- ½ cup Sticky rice or boiled quinoa boiled with salt.
- ½ Avocado, ½ small cucumber, ½ red bell pepper steamed julienne cut.
- Cilantro pesto - chop 1 bunch cilantro, salt, garlic, olive oil and fistful walnuts.
- Sriracha sauce.
Take nori sheet and wet the edge with water closer to you. In the center, put thin layer of sticky rice, Sriracha sauce, mashed chickpeas, avocado and cucumber strips and tofu. Wet the opposite edge of the sheet with water so it sticks well to the other edge. Roll the nori sheet once to make a burrito fold.
Super healthy and tasty burrito is ready.
To our health!
Bhavi Nirav is a Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., certified yoga practitioner, and can be reached at email@example.com