An essential mineral, zinc can be found naturally in some foods, in dietary supplements, and as an additive to some foods. And when it comes to the body, zinc serves several purposes. It helps with immune function, it helps with cell division, it helps maintain skin and mucosal membranes (which help heal wounds), and it is necessary for proper sense of smell and taste, just to name a few.
Most people get enough zinc in the foods they already consume, but a severe zinc deficiency can create problems such as slowed growth in children, skin and vision problems, loss of appetite, weakened immune function, and prostate problems in men. Too much zinc in the body can cause abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
You can find zinc in a variety of foods, including beef, cheese, flounder, fruit, dried beans (chickpeas, kidney beans, peas), fortified breakfast cereals, milk, oatmeal, oysters, poultry, sole, whole grains, and yogurt.
If you’re looking to add nutrients into your diet, such as zinc, the federal government recommends that nutrients should come primarily from foods, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products. Red meat, oysters, and poultry are excellent sources of zinc.