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Can You Take Zinc to Gain Weight?

author image Jill Corleone
Based in Hawaii, Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 10 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Can You Take Zinc to Gain Weight?
Add cashews to your diet to up calories and zinc intake. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Not getting enough zinc in your diet can lead to weight loss, but that doesn't mean taking it as a supplement is going to help you gain weight. If you're trying to add pounds to your frame, you need to eat a healthy and balanced diet that's high in calories and adequate in all nutrients. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to help you design a healthy weight-gain diet plan that's adequate in zinc.

Zinc Needs

Zinc is found in a variety of foods, and with the exception of older adults, most people in the United States are able to meet their daily zinc needs from the foods they eat, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. In addition to immune health and wound healing, you also need an adequate intake of zinc for protein synthesis. You only need zinc in small amounts since it's a trace mineral. The recommended dietary allowance for zinc is 8 to 12 milligrams for women, with pregnant and lactating women requiring more zinc, and 11 milligrams a day for men.

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Zinc and Weight Gain

While zinc alone may not help you gain weight, weight loss is a symptom of zinc deficiency. The deficiency may be related to an underlying cause, however, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, and not necessarily from a poor intake. Exercise, for example, depletes zinc stores, which may impair muscle function, according to the University of Michigan Health System.

Upping your intake of zinc when exercising may help improve muscle strength by improving the movement of the red blood cells to your muscles, according to the medical center. The health system does not report muscle growth with more zinc, however.

Calories for Weight Gain

A zinc supplement alone will not help you gain weight. As with weight loss, weight gain is all about calories, and you need to eat more calories than your body burns to put on pounds. To gain weight healthfully, though, it's important that you make those extra calories nutrient-dense, which means adding high-calorie healthy foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, oils such as olive or soy oil, milk and eggs to your diet.

High-Calorie Zinc Foods

If you want to boost your zinc intake as you gain weight, a number of high-calorie foods are also rich in zinc. Good options include cashews, yogurt, cheese, dark-meat chicken and meats such a chuck roast and pork loin.

When it comes to weight gain, however, it's important to include a variety of foods from all the food groups so that you get all the nutrients you need for overall good health, not just zinc.

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