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Weight Loss & Zinc

by
author image Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.
Weight Loss & Zinc
Feet on scale Photo Credit elif Anal/iStock/Getty Images

Although unplanned weight loss is a potential side effect of getting too little zinc in your diet, your body requires plenty of zinc every day to function properly. Furthermore, if you’re overweight or obese and are seeking weight loss, boosting your dietary zinc intake may improve your chance for weight-loss success.

Zinc Basics

Zinc is an essential mineral necessary for proper immune function, protein building, wound healing and maintaining a proper sense of taste and smell. Abundant in a variety of foods, zinc is present in meat, seafood, dark-meat poultry, dairy foods, legumes, nuts and zinc-fortified breakfast cereals. The recommended dietary allowance for zinc is 11 milligrams daily for men and pregnant women, 12 milligrams per day for breast-feeding women and 8 milligrams daily for other adult women.

Effects on Weight loss

A study published in 2013 in “Biological Trace Element Research” reports that obese individuals tend to have low levels of circulating zinc in their bodies. Therefore, boosting dietary zinc may benefit overweight and obese individuals. Another study published in 2013 in “Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin” found that obese study subjects who consumed zinc supplements containing 30 milligrams of zinc gluconate daily had improved body mass indices, lost weight and showed improvements in triglyceride levels.

Zinc Toxicity Concerns

While you can consume plenty of zinc via your diet, the study subjects who lost weight by boosting their zinc intake did so using supplements. Use caution when taking dietary supplements containing zinc, however. Ingesting too much zinc from supplements can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, reduced immune function and interference with absorption of other nutrients. The tolerable upper intake level, or maximum safe daily intake, for zinc is 40 milligrams daily for adults, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Bottom Line

While getting plenty of zinc in your diet may help enhance weight loss if you’re overweight or obese, your total daily calorie intake and expenditure determine whether or not you’ll lose weight. Many zinc-rich foods are also high in dietary protein, which helps boost satiety and energy expenditure, according to a review published in 2008 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” -- which is beneficial when you’re trying to shed pounds. To lose weight safely and effectively, reduce your current calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories daily -- and aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.

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