Zinc – Causes of Low Intake
Reasons for Low Zinc Status
Researchers in the late nineties and early noughties found that the zinc status of most foods was about 25% less than fifteen years previous; 1/50th of the soil’s zinc is thought to be lost with each crop rotation. Additionally, the copper levels in the foods tested had halved, which probably goes some way to indicating the effects of over-farming on a huge array of essential minerals. In danger of sounding like a stuck record – Go Vegan Organic/Stockfree!
Even if soil levels of zinc, and the resulting food levels, are high there are things that can prevent you from absorbing zinc well and other things that deplete I from your system. One key thing is the state of your ma’s health when she had you! If she smoked or drank a lot (hell, you’ve probably got bigger problems than zinc deficiency right?) then your ability to absorb and use zinc might already be a bit skewiff. There are various tests that can be done to check your zinc levels and certain enzymes’ activity to ascertain if you have a metabolic problem with zinc (try YorkTests). Other issues include a lack of B6 and manganese in your diet as these are necessary for the utilisation of zinc in the body.
For vegans, a major problem is the amount of phytates in the diet, from foods like beans, pulses, cereals etc. Yeasted, fermented products have usually had the phytates destroyed by phytase (a phytic acid-destroying enzyme), and cooking also reduces the phytates content significantly. If you eat lots of unleavened bread (like pitas, and flatbreads) then you might want to think about increasing your zinc-rich foods to make up for inhibited absorption.