Zinc is one of those substances that are vital, but cannot be produced by our body. On top of that, zinc also has a toxic effect and too much of the trace element can make us sick. So how is the optimal zinc daily requirementcalculated?
Although zinc is also absorbed through the diet, there are situations in which an additional supply is appropriate. However, this is not so easy. Because: Even science does not always agree on recommendations for the right zinc dosage.
So that you do not lose track of the jungle of information, we have summarized the most important data and facts about the zinc daily requirement here for you.
That’s why the zinc dosage depends on the golden mean
Before we come to the table with the recommendations for zinc daily requirement, some clarification. Why is the dosage of zinc so difficult to estimate?
As already mentioned, zinc is vital. Our organism needs the mineral for numerous important functions, such as cell metabolism. So nothing works without zinc.
However, since our body cannot produce the substance itself, we are dependent on zinc from the diet. And that’s where the proverbial dog is buried.
Whether through various intolerances, conscious vegan or meatless diet or simply personal preference. Eating habits are always highly individual. On top of that, zinc shows interactions with other substances. For example, the intake of zinc is related to the phytate contained in the diet. The individual zinc daily requirement is thus closely linked to the individual diet in addition to age and gender.
First, let’s look at how you can even notice that you are taking in too little or too much zinc.
These symptoms may indicate a problematic zinc balance:
With a lack of zinc, the following symptoms may appear:
- Skin problems such as dermatitis or rash
- Hair loss
- Problems with digestion (especially diarrhea)
- Disturbed taste sensation
- Susceptibility to infections
- Problems with general wound healing
- In children and adolescents: stunted growth
An overdose of zinc, on the other hand, is so noticeable:
- Abdominal pain and nausea (sometimes with vomiting)
- A metallic taste in the mouth
- Lack of other essential minerals such as iron, copper, calcium or magnesium
If you suffer from one or more of these problems, this could indicate too much or too little zinc in the body. In this case, you need to adjust your zinc intake to get rid of the discomfort. But don’t worry, as a rule it’s not that difficult.
So you can balance your zinc intake mainly by a corresponding change in your diet or the intake of dietary supplements.
In case of doubt, however, you should visit the family doctor to determine any nutrient deficiencies and to get advice accordingly.
But how much zinc do you need per day? Let’s look at what the experts say.
Zinc daily requirement according to age and gender at a glance
We have already hinted at it in the introduction: The recommendations for the zinc daily requirement are not always uniform. Consider that the personal need for zinc depends on numerous factors.
One of the most important of these is the intake of phytate or phytic acid. This is a bioactive substance that is mainly present in legumes and cereals. Per se, phytate is not unhealthy, but it binds minerals such as magnesium, iron or zinc, so that they can no longer be absorbed by the body.
With a varied diet, all this is no problem. However, it can become so if your main source of zinc are foods that also contain a lot of phytate. Particularly affected are people who eat a meatless or vegan diet, as soy products, nuts and bran are particularly rich in the substance.
The currently most common recommendations for the zinc daily requirement for children with a medium phytate intake and a balanced diet look like this:
- 1-3 years: ~3mg
- 4-8 years: ~5mg
- 9-13 years: ~8mg
From puberty onwards, the zinc daily requirement differs depending on gender:
- 14-18 years: ~11mg for boys and ~9mg for teenage girls
The recommendations for the zinc daily requirement for adults of all ages then look like this:
- from 19 years: ~14mg for men and ~8mg for women
It should be noted that these values are the average values of the recommendations of the WHO, DGE and the US National Academy of Sciences.
If you eat a balanced diet and focus your zinc supply on these values, the danger of a zinc deficiency is averted in most cases. Under certain conditions, however, it may still be that your body needs more zinc.
Under these circumstances, your daily zinc requirement is increased
One reason for an increased need for zinc may be your diet. If you get zinc for example mostly from phytate-containing foods (e.B. with a one-sided vegan diet), the following recommendations apply to adults:
- from 19 years: ~16mg for men and ~10mg for women
Pregnant and lactating women also need more of the trace element:
- ~9-11mg during pregnancy and ~13mg during breastfeeding
Furthermore, even in the case of certain diseases such as a chronic absorption disorder or for wound healing after surgery, an increased zinc intake is recommended.
If you resort to dietary supplements or extremely zinc-containing foods in these cases, you must also pay attention to the upper limit. As mentioned, an overdose with zinc can have undesirable consequences.
The European Food Safety Authority recommends 25mg of zinc per day as an upper intake level (UL). The National Academy of Sciences sets the UL at 40mg per day.
Still undecided about your zinc daily requirement? Listen to your body!
Whether too much or too little – finding the ideal daily amount of zinc for you is often not so easy. After all, the individual zinc daily requirement depends on many different factors.
It is therefore all the more important that you listen well to your body. This is the only way you can detect and compensate for deficiencies in important nutrients at an early stage. If you notice the symptoms of a zinc deficiency, you should seek advice from your family doctor.
By changing the diet or with the help of dietary supplements, you can then effectively ensure that your body gets everything it needs every day.