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Nuts and Zinc

By Anthony Isaac Palacios

Nuts are a portable and nutritious snack that you can enjoy virtually anywhere. They are natural sources of many vitamins and minerals, including zinc, an essential mineral. Consuming a variety of nuts and other zinc-rich foods daily will ensure an adequate intake of the mineral. Consult a registered dietitian for a detailed list of nutritious foods.

Nutrition in Nuts

A variety of nuts provide good sources of zinc and other vital nutrients. The nuts that provide the most zinc include cashews, almonds and peanuts. One ounce of dry-roasted cashews provides 1.6 mg of zinc or 11 percent of your recommended Daily Value, or DV. A food that provides more than 10 percent of the recommended DV for a particular nutrient is considered a good source. One ounce of almonds or peanuts provides only 1 mg of zinc, or 7 percent of the DV. In addition to zinc, nuts are packed with protein, fiber and essential fatty acids. Other vitamins and minerals abundant in nuts include B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, magnesium and selenium.

Zinc's Function

Zinc is an essential mineral that you must obtain daily by consuming a wide variety of foods. It plays roles in the growth and development of many important areas of the body including immunity, cellular metabolism, protein synthesis, wound healing and neurological function, notes the Office of Dietary Supplements. Individuals most at risk for zinc deficiency include infants, malnourished individuals, older adults, strict vegetarians and those with malabsorption or intestinal disorders.

Daily Recommendation

Adolescent and adult males require 11 mg of zinc daily while women require only 9 mg per day. Pregnant and breast-feeding women require greater amounts of zinc, approximately 11 to 13 mg of zinc daily. Infants and children require only 2 to 8 mg of zinc daily. Consult with a registered dietitian for a personalized zinc requirement based on your activity level and condition. You can obtain your daily requirement for zinc from a variety of foods. In addition to proper diet, the Linus Pauling Institute recommends a multivitamin formula that provides 100 percent of the DV for zinc and other nutrients.

Diet Considerations

While nuts are a rich source of nutrients, they are also high in calories, so consume them in moderation. Eat a handful, or about 1 oz., of nuts every day. Nuts make an excellent addition to snacks such as hot or cold cereal, yogurt or fruit cups. They can also be added to your favorite salad, wrap or baked good recipe. Other foods that provide zinc include dairy products, legumes, seeds, grains and green leafy vegetables. Shellfish, beef, poultry and other red meats are also rich sources of zinc.

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