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Top ten ways to optimise your zinc levels

by , 11 May 2016

Minerals are tiny compounds involved in hundreds of known functions in your body. They're essential for optimising your health and performance. So how do you know if you're getting enough of them?

Zinc, in particular, is a powerful mineral and antioxidant that every cell in your body needs in order to function. (And there are certain instances when you may need more zinc than others!)

So what happens if you don't get enough of this vital mineral? Hair loss, sexual dysfunction, poor appetite, delayed wound healing, unwanted weight loss and mental slowness are just a few results of a zinc deficiency.

To up your zinc intake and optimise your levels, follow these simple tips!

Ten ways to up your zinc intake

#1: Eat cacao
Cacao contains high amounts of zinc, along with other crucial minerals like selenium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and iron. Oysters, pumpkin seeds, organ meats (especially grass-fed/pastured liver), and seaweed are also high in bioavailable minerals. It’s best to get a majority of your nutrients from food, so choose food before you touch the supplements!
#2: Ensure adequate stomach acid
Low stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCl) or compromised digestion can inhibit mineral absorption. If you suspect low HCl, add apple cider vinegar or lemon water 10 to 15 minutes before a meal, take a Betaine HCl supplement, or add a digestive enzyme to your routine to increase stomach acid levels and thus mineral absorption.
#3: Opt for organic
The result of commercial agriculture is the degradation of our topsoil. This means depletion in the natural mineral content of our food—fruits, vegetables, and animal products. Buy local, organic when possible, or grow your own vegetables to maximise the nutrients in your food. Grass-fed, pastured animals and their by-products contain more nutrients overall, especially key minerals and essential fatty acids.
#4: Ditch refined foods
The refining process removes much of the fibre, vitamins, and minerals associated with the food. Best to stick to nutrient-dense whole vegetables, meat, and seafood for maximum intake and absorption.
#5: Balance zinc with copper
When it comes to minerals, more is not always better. Zinc must be balanced with copper, for instance, because zinc and copper compete for absorption in the GI tract. A 15:1 zinc-to-copper ratio is recommended. It's much more common for people to be deficient in zinc than in copper, especially if you're vegan or vegetarian (see the next tip). However, high levels of zinc impair the absorption of copper as well, so make sure levels are balanced.
#6: Re-evaluate your diet
It’s true: Animal-based sources of zinc are more bioavailable than plant-based sources. Strict vegetarian and vegan diets that are high in grains, nuts, and seeds can deplete the minerals found in these foods and leave you mineral deficient. If you’re not open to eating animals, best to test for adequate mineral levels and supplement where needed.
#7: Manage stress
Stress comes in many forms—even positive ones like marriage, a new house, or a new baby. Stress in any form causes a demand for more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Meditation or other stress management techniques could have a huge impact on nutrient stores, in addition to improving your quality of life.
#8: Eliminate or reduce added sugar consumption
Sugar intake actually exacerbates deficiencies by enhancing the breakdown and excretion of vitamins and minerals. Reduce sugar intake (especially in the form of fructose) and help your body hold on to crucial nutrients!
#9: Soak your nuts and seeds
Phytic acid is a natural substance found in all plant seeds, nuts, legumes, and grains. When overconsumed, phytates affect the absorption of important minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium in the body, slowing or preventing absorption. Soaking, sprouting, or fermenting these foods can reduce levels of phytic acid for maximum mineral absorption.
#10: Check your medications
Have a chat with your doctor about certain medications that may be aggravating the excretion of important nutrients.
Additional tip: Eat more fat
Eating mineral-rich foods along with a powerful fat source, like XCT oil or wild salmon, will help your body to absorb vitamins and minerals and also help with brain function, making you feel more energetic, clearheaded, and positive.

How much zinc you should get per day

For optimum health and performance, and to maximise immunity and fertility, get about 25 mg of zinc per day, taken with your evening meal, or eat plenty of zinc-rich foods every day. This will boost stores of the mineral for when you need it most and help you feel your best!

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