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Zinc Can Support Mental Performance

Explore the importance of zinc for overall health and well-being. Learn about the functions of zinc in the body, its role in immune support, sources of zinc-rich foods, and considerations for maintaining optimal zinc levels.

Clearhead Tip: Zinc is an important mineral for healthy brain functioning; having the right levels of zinc can support a healthy mood and your ability to manage stress. It can also help with your mental abilities, particularly concentration, memory, and learning.

The Science
Petrilli, M. A., Kranz, T. M., Kleinhaus, K., Joe, P., Getz, M., Johnson, P., Chao, M. V., & Malaspina, D. (2017). The Emerging Role for Zinc in Depression and Psychosis. Frontiers in pharmacology, 8, 414. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2017.00414

Zinc is an essential mineral and is involved in immune function, wound healing, and supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence. Zinc is a trace mineral which means the body only needs it in small amounts.

Recommended Intake
Recommended intakes for Zinc are shown below and are taken from the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand:

Note there are small variations between country recommendations.

Food Sources

Zinc Deficiency
Zinc deficiency is rare. If a deficiency does exist this is often due to inadequate zinc intake or absorption. A registered dietitian will be able to assess zinc intake from the diet and determine whether or not a deficiency exists.

Groups at risk of low Zinc status
Vegetarians and vegans are at risk for zinc deficiency as they do not eat meat and/or dairy. Pregnant women have a higher requirement for zinc due to the growing fetus, and lactation can also reduce zinc stores. Zinc deficiency is most common in those who have problems with absorption or digestive problems such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Zinc for Health
Zinc deficiency can depress the immune system, which can result in increased infection rates. Zinc also helps wounds heal and may also reduce the advancement of age-related macular degeneration.

Individuals who have or are developing age-related macular degeneration should speak with their health care professional before taking a zinc supplement.

Excessive Zinc Intake
Excessive zinc intake can cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and headaches. Excess zinc intake occurs almost exclusively from supplements rather than food. Furthermore, there have been no reports of eating excessive zinc solely from diet.

The Science

Evans JR, Lawrenson JG. Antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements for slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration. 2012. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Vol.11, p CD000254.

Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc: a Report of the Panel on Micronutrients. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222317/ Accessed 4th November 2020.



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