Zinc is essential for a healthy body and healthy life. It is vitally important you get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet. Vegan and gluten-free or not, many of us do not get enough zinc. Here’s How To Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet.
What Is Zinc And Why Do You Need It???
Zinc is a nutrient we need to stay healthy. Zinc is found in cells throughout your body. Zinc helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA; the genetic material in all cells. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, we need zinc to grow and develop properly. Zinc also helps wounds heal and is important for effective senses of taste and smell.
How Much Zinc Do You Need In Your Diet
In the UK the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for adults 9.5 mg a day for males 7 mg a day for females aged over 15 years. The amount of zinc you need each day depends on your age and breastfeeding women need more zinc in their diet.
However, certain groups of people are more likely than others to have trouble getting enough zinc:
- People who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery
- Those with have digestive disorders, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease which can decrease the amount of zinc that the body absorbs and increase the amount lost in the urine
- Vegetarians and vegan sources of zinc contain compounds that keep zinc from being fully absorbed by the body. For this reason, vegetarians and vegans may need to eat as much as 50% more zinc than the recommended amounts
- Alcoholics as alcoholic beverages decrease the amount of zinc that the body absorbs and increase the amount lost in the urine. Additionally, alcoholics may eat a limited amount and variety of food, so they may not get enough zinc
- People with sickle cell disease may require more zinc.
Symptoms Of Zinc Deficiency
Zinc deficiency is rare however, it causes slow growth in infants and children, delayed sexual development in adolescents and impotence in men. Zinc deficiency also causes hair loss, diarrhoea, eye and skin sores and loss of appetite. Weight loss, problems with wound healing, decreased ability to taste food, and lower alertness levels can also occur.
However, many of these symptoms can be signs of problems other than zinc deficiency. If you have these symptoms, your doctor can help determine whether you might have a zinc deficiency.
Concerned You’re Not Getting Enough Zinc?
If you’re concerned you’re not getting enough zinc in your gluten-free, vegan life you could keep a food diary; logging everything you eat and drink. You can then work out exactly how much zinc you are getting on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. You should keep the diary for quite a few weeks for it to be representative of your intake.
I have a FREE Food Diary you can download. Just click the button below to sign-up and download.
How To Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet
Gluten-free, vegan sources of zinc include beans, nuts and gluten-free whole grains. Here are some examples of gluten-free, vegan sources of zinc:
- Leafy greens. 100 grams of cooked spinach contains 0.8 milligrams of zinc. Other leafy greens like amaranth leaves, endive, and radicchio also contain similar levels of zinc
- Seeds. Pumpkin and squash seeds: 100 grams of seeds contains 10.3 milligrams of zinc. Sunflower seeds provide 5 milligrams of zinc per 100 grams, chia seeds provide 4.6 milligrams per 100 grams, and flaxseeds provide 4.3 milligrams per 100 grams
- Nuts. Cashews contain more zinc than other nuts. For every 100 grams of roasted cashews the body absorbs 5.6 milligrams of zinc. Other nuts provide zinc as well. Pine nuts provide 6.4 milligrams per 100 grams, pecans 4.5 milligrams per 100 grams, almonds 3.1 milligrams per 100 grams, peanuts 3.3 milligrams per 100 grams, and hazelnuts 2.5 milligrams per 100 grams
- Cocoa and chocolate. 100 grams of cocoa powder provide the body with 6.8 milligrams of zinc. For every 86 grams of cocoa the body receives 5.9 milligrams of zinc, and for every 5 gram tablespoon it receives 0.3 milligrams of zinc. Dark chocolate (70-85% cocoa solids) is also high in zinc and provides 3.3 milligrams per 100 grams
- Beans (tinned). 100 grams of chickpeas provide 1.1 milligrams of zinc per 100 grams. Aduki beans provide 1.6 milligrams of zinc per 100 grams, kidney beans 1.1 milligrams per 100 grams and black beans 1.1 milligrams per 100 grams
- Mushrooms: 100 grams of raw brown mushrooms provides 1.1 milligrams of zinc per 100 grams.
How To Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet – Leafy Greens
Although not quite a leafy green and not super high in zinc endive/ chicory still provides 0.8 milligrams of zinc per 100 grams. Not to be sniffed at! Especially when you combine it with almonds – another source of zing. I adore the bitterness of chicory and it’s great grilled in a salad or if you take the younger inner leave they are so delicate in a salad like Endive Salad with Pears and Almonds.
How To Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet – Seeds
I am a huge fan of seeds of every description. Toasted pumpkin seeds are amongst my favourite. I NEVER throw away the seeds from any squash or pumpkin, in fact, they are the best bit. I prefer the seeds to the squash (shhh!). What better way to eat pumpkin (or squash) seeds than as part of a fabulously tasty and nutritious salad? Pumpkin Salad with Crispy Sage hit so many spots with the pumpkin and seeds and flavour. I’m crazy about it.
How To Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet – Nuts
Let’s hear it for the cashew nut!!! Cashews make great vegan cheese but I love them in the super easy and super decadent Gluten-Free, Vegan Lemon and Blueberry Cheesecake. If you are after a savoury cashew fix I can totally recommend Gluten-Free, Vegan Cauliflower Cheese.
How To Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet – Chocolate
CHOCOLATE!!! I love chocolate. I don’t eat a lot of it but when I have it in the cupboard I will eat it. I prefer chocolate as an ingredient rather than eating it ‘straight’. So, I can highly recommend Uber Rich Chocolate and Strawberry Brownies as an indulgent treat that also contain almonds and hence, more zinc!
How To Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet – Beans
I’m a very big fan of chickpeas. Just the flexibility alone makes chickpeas stand out – from the savoury Chick Peas and Kale in Tamarind Tomato Sauce to the sweet and light Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess (making full use of chickpea juice). One of my favourite chickpea recipes is Chickpea and Pumpkin Burger. Save the pumpkin seeds and eat those too for even more zinc!
How To Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet – Mushrooms
Mushrooms are super versatile and I love the flavour and texture of mushrooms. The larger mushrooms, like portabello mushrooms are great, especially for baked dishes such as Baked Mushrooms With Crispy Sage. However, if you want to wow friends of family with a rich, delicious dinner I can totally recommend Mushroom and Winter Vegetable Bourguignon. Full of flavour and always a rip-roaring success!
How To Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet – Supplements
Sometimes we need a little extra help with zinc. If you have been ill or have gastric problems for example. Gluten-free vegan zinc supplements may help you.
Most multi-vitamins contain zinc at 100% of the recommended daily intake. But if you don’t want to take a multi-vitamin I can recommend the two zinc supplements here.
I currently use Viridian Balanced Zinc Complex*. I’m a bit of a fan of Viridian products. Most are gluten-free and vegan and they also donate to charity too. .
I have also used Holland & Barrett High Strength Zinc Tablets* and liked them too!
* Affiliate link.
How Do You Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet?
There are lots of tips and tricks to Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet – this is my tiny selection of thoughts…
If you have any questions or concerns about your health speak to your GP or a dietitian. Keeping a food diary for a few weeks will give you a solid foundation for discussions with medical professionals.
What do you do to make sure you Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet? Drop a comment below or ping me on social media! 🙂