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      Zinc and iron: Why you need them and where to get them
      05/12/2020 / By Skye Anderson / Comments
      Zinc and iron: Why you need them and where to get them

      The World Health Organization (WHO) defines hidden hunger as something that occurs when the quality of food people eat do not meet their nutrient requirements. This means that the food available is deficient in important micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for proper growth and development.

      According to statistics, around two billion people suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This, claim British and Austrian researchers, is?due to a deficit of micronutrients, particularly minerals like zinc and iron, in global food systems. In fact, supply-based estimates show that zinc deficiency may be more widespread than iron deficiency in regions like sub-Saharan Africa.

      In their study published in the journal Global Food Security, the researchers noted that recent advances in analytical techniques, such as the use of stable isotopes of zinc and iron, can help improve human understanding of the movement of micronutrients in food systems. They also believe that a deeper understanding can help reduce the immense human cost of hidden hunger.

      To increase people’s zinc and iron intake, as well as the mineral content of foods, the researchers recommend?the?use of several approaches, such as micronutrient supplementation, food fortification, dietary diversification and crop biofortification.

      The importance of zinc and iron for the human body

      Zinc is an essential nutrient that can be found in raw, organic meats as well as organically produced whole foods. Nowadays, it is also added to certain food products, such as ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. For people who have trouble meeting their daily zinc requirement from diet alone, zinc supplements have also been made available on the market for their convenience.

      Inside the body, zinc is heavily involved in various processes related to cellular metabolism. About 100 enzymes are known to require zinc in order to function properly. Zinc also?plays a role in immune function, DNA and protein synthesis, wound healing and even cell division. It also supports growth and development from infancy to adolescence and enables a person to taste and smell things properly.

      The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc is 8 mg for females aged 19 and above and 11 mg for males of the same age.

      Like zinc, iron is another mineral that’s naturally present in many foods or is added to some food products. It is available in two main forms, namely, heme iron, which contributes 10-15 percent percent of the total iron intake in western populations, and non-heme iron, which can be found in plant-based food sources, as well as red meat, seafood and poultry.

      Iron is a well-known component of hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells responsible for transferring oxygen from the lungs to other tissues. Iron is also present in myoglobin, a protein that supplies oxygen to the muscles. This micronutrient is needed by the body for proper physical growth, neurological development, cell functioning and hormone production.

      The RDA for iron is 18 mg for females?aged 19?to 5o years and?8 mg for males?of the same age. Adults older than 50 have an RDA of?8 mg of iron.

      Foods rich in zinc and iron

      Both zinc and iron play important roles inside the human body, so it is important that you get sufficient amounts of these minerals from your diet.

      Here’s what to eat to get?sufficient amounts of zinc: (h/t to Healthline.com)

      • Organic red meat
      • Shellfish
      • Legumes (e.g., beans, lentils, chickpeas)
      • Seeds (e.g., hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds)
      • Nuts (e.g., cashews, almonds)
      • Dairy products (e.g., raw milk, cheese)
      • Eggs
      • Whole grains (e.g., quinoa, wheat, oats)
      • Regular potatoes and sweet potatoes
      • Green beans and kale
      • Dark chocolate (70 to 85 percent cocoa)

      To boost your iron intake, here are the best foods to eat: (h/t to Healthline.com)

      • Shellfish
      • Spinach
      • Liver and organ meats
      • Legumes
      • Red meat, preferably organic
      • Pumpkin seeds
      • Quinoa
      • Turkey meat
      • Broccoli
      • Tofu
      • Dark chocolate
      • Fish (e.g., tuna, mackerel, sardines)

      Micronutrient deficiency is linked to?various physical and mental health conditions. To avoid serious consequences, eat a balanced diet rich in nutritious whole foods and organically produced plant-based foods. You’d also do well to reduce your consumption of highly processed foods, which contain?nothing but empty calories and do nothing good for your health.

      Sources:?

      WHO.int

      ScienceDirect.com

      ODS.OD.NIH.gov 1

      ODS.OD.NIH.gov 2

      Healthline.com 1

      Healthline.com 2

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