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Getting enough Zinc without eating lots of beef muscle? (and balance Zinc-Copper)

Commented on June 04, 2014
Created May 31, 2014 at 9:15 PM

I find that I get plenty of copper from organ meats, chocolate, and various other random sources. I try not to make beef muscle central to my diet. Of the muscle I eat, beef probably come second after fish, so it's not exactly rare. I'm more likely to be found eating organs, skin, connective tissues, and plant foods than most paleos. I eat oysters to help increase my zinc intake but they contain lots of copper too (as with most non-beef-muscle zinc sources).

My zinc:copper ratio frequently hovers around 4:1 to 5.5:1... I guess it's not far from the recommended 7.5:1 but what's the Paleo consensus? 'Yall eat loads of beef.

And I don't want to start eating 16 ounces of ground beef every day (just about the only affordable way to get enough grass fed beef in my diet to offset the imbalance).

I'm sure this is an unusual problem for paleo types.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 04, 2014
at 04:27 AM

My paleo might not be average. I don't eat chicken but instead beef is something I eat plenty of. When I read paleo recipe sites I'm annoyed by all the chicken recipes that may be more representative than my own experience.

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on June 03, 2014
at 11:08 PM

You can in principle raise a variety of them at home, similar to what you can do with sprouts. Being cold blooded, you can raise them with little food and get quite a bit of meat from a small set up. Virtually everyone who has some reptile in the house has such an outfit. For human consumption you need to purge them. I would like to start a facility at home (one cubic yard or so) but I have been too busy at work lately.

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 09:15 PM

I'd love to put the whole insects-as-a-food thing into practice, at least in trial. Trouble is I can't go to the supermarket and buy a few ounces of cricket larva or what-have-you. How do you eat insects!?!? Do you set traps in the field or something?

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 09:10 PM

lol that was pretty cryptic but somehow makes me want to venture with you in my cohort.

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on June 03, 2014
at 08:53 PM

Thanks for checking this. There was bug in a spreadsheet I had been using to figure all these things out. There is no unusual amount of zinc in skin. I apologize. But there is a lot of zinc in insects.

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 03:08 PM

Thanks for pointing out the obvious wtfgod. My approach is basically a combo of all 4 points. A little more beef, a little less copper, and I'm going back to supplementation once or twice a week.

I'm going to replace most of my beef liver with chicken liver (and I only consume the liver once or twice a week anyway)... I could never understand why the paleosphere consensus is that beef liver is better. Chicken liver seems to have a more balanced nutrient profile and lacks the huge copper hit. Also has more folate which I need badly.

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 03:03 PM

Can't argue with those points Matt11... Though my diet isn't cookie-cutter Paleo (different goals than most - no weight loss, focus on being live and active into old age, etc...) so I don't follow the usual "eat lots of beef" paradigm. Also, as wtfgod points out, it's me we're talking about. Sufficient isn't good enough. How could I get satisfactorily obsessed if sufficient were good enough?

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 03:40 AM

This is pretty interesting but I'd love to see some source for the skin thing. The chicken thigh vs thigh with skin comparison wasn't compelling and the data for plain pork skin shows little zinc...

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 03:30 AM

I ask mainly because I'm wondering if I need to worry about it at all. Sometimes Paleohacks answers my questions our right but if not people usually provide some good leads for my own research. Thanks!

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 03:23 AM

Thanks. I don't make Liver a staple. It's just one of the many foods I eat that tend to throw my balance off. The largest contributors are probably chocolate, liver, and oddly oysters because they were my way to get out of supplementing before I realized they have quite a bit of copper themselves.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on June 01, 2014
at 12:06 PM

Paleo people do it more lol.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on June 01, 2014
at 12:03 PM

3 weeks until I'm out of this midwestern desert and back in oyster land. I've stocked the larder with applewood smoked Nueskes bacon in anticipation of memorable hangtown frys and angels on horseback. Zn and Cu here I come.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 01, 2014
at 02:41 AM

Also being cautious of relying on plant-sourced copper… like zinc and iron it's not as bioavailable.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 01, 2014
at 02:41 AM

Yes, the whole animal is roughly proportioned as humans require (Zn:Cu ratios). Which is why I wrote to eat in proportion to the whole animal. You don't need much liver to meet dietary needs (in contrast to paleo guru advice to eat tons of offal, which makes no sense from any angle.) In fact, going heavy on liver (multiple servings a week) will throw off your ratio significantly.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 01, 2014
at 02:38 AM

The obsession over glycine consumption is odd.

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on June 01, 2014
at 12:46 AM

I think that, to get all benefits of nose-to-tail, it is sufficient to eat liver, skin, and tripe, besides finding a way to eat bones and marrow. You can skip heart, spleen, tongue, kidney (although you lose some high-Se meat) and if you eat enough fish, brains and thyroid. But you have to eat membranes, for zinc and glycine.

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on June 01, 2014
at 12:42 AM

not at all. In a similar thread about two weeks ago I mentioned that the proper muscle/liver ratio is 50/1 (to keep Zn/Cu at 10). That is not far from the natural ratio in whole animals (one steer is 450 lbs meat/11lbs liver, or 40).

But liver, for me, has retinol, and I eat more than 2% of muscle. Also, beef muscle counteracts all that copper from sunflower shoots, potatoes, natto and greens. It is a lot easier to eat some skin, than to double my meat consumption.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 31, 2014
at 11:54 PM

Depends perhaps one's baseline diet. A paleo diet will typically have a lot of zinc and relatively less copper. But you take a standard "Western" diet, it has less minerals total and less zinc relative to copper. When does a ratio come into play… only when one interferes with the other I would expect, and that means you need a pretty wonky ratio. It's a safe bet that @Methodician has a ratio that is reasonably close to correct… not far enough off to be overly concerned.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 31, 2014
at 11:25 PM

Except you can go too far with the nose-to-tail concept… it's faulty thinking to say more liver is better because whole-animal is better than muscle. Whole animal is whole animal, and that includes much larger fractions of lean muscle. You take a normal diet and warp it into a dysfunctional one.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 31, 2014
at 09:59 PM

+1 because Mscott needs more points.

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6 Answers

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7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on May 31, 2014
at 09:31 PM

Seems your options are,

1. Stop eating so much copper.

2. Eat more beef.

3. Eat more oysters.

4. Supplement Zinc.

I would make my case for the first, as chocolate really doesn't offer anything valuable in the way of nutrition. ( Things you can't get easily from other sources )

While organ meats are more valuable in this regard, from what I know they don't have a ton of variety in their nutrient profile, so eating smaller amounts may be wiser unless you're trying to fill a specific nutrient profile for a longer period of time. ( Week ) ( Might be wrong on this point )

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 03:08 PM

Thanks for pointing out the obvious wtfgod. My approach is basically a combo of all 4 points. A little more beef, a little less copper, and I'm going back to supplementation once or twice a week.

I'm going to replace most of my beef liver with chicken liver (and I only consume the liver once or twice a week anyway)... I could never understand why the paleosphere consensus is that beef liver is better. Chicken liver seems to have a more balanced nutrient profile and lacks the huge copper hit. Also has more folate which I need badly.

0
47cbd166d262925037bc6f9a9265eb20

(55)

on June 01, 2014
at 11:50 AM

An important detail for sexually active people, especially men (female ejaculation composition is not studied with regards to zinc as far as I know, it's only predicted to have zinc:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19766406 ), an important amount of zinc is lost with semen, and I can bet paleo people do it more.

Since oysters are hard to find and expensive, you may choose to look for a zinc glycinate supplement as that's better absorbed and glycine is good also:

http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/meeting_abstract...

My zinc gluconate is about to run out, next I have Swanson brand zinc glycinate with 45 mg optimum abzorption complex which is ginger, piper (basically black pepper) longum and piper nigrum for 30 mg zinc. New products don't seem to have the complex but you may use your own ginger.

There's also this 100 gm powder option one needs to carefully divide:

http://www.labexpress.com/zinc-glycinate-monohydra...

that gives 18,000 mg of zinc and probably must be shared to consume in one year. I've found the shelf life to be one year, but I'm not sure if it can or can't be safely used after that.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on June 01, 2014
at 12:06 PM

Paleo people do it more lol.

0
7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on May 31, 2014
at 11:26 PM

To spitball at matt and mscott,

It is common for people to have zinc deficiencies, less common for them to have copper deficiencies, so if one was trying to work out of a zinc deficiency without supplementing or otherwise harming their diet then they may be trying to increase their ratio beyond a 'meh it will be fine' point.

( To answer the question why he may be worried about the ratio in spite of it not being too important )

Or because it's methodician, I would just assume it's because he likes to get pretty pedantic with his dietary details and knowing random information's. ( Nothing wrong with this :D )

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 31, 2014
at 11:54 PM

Depends perhaps one's baseline diet. A paleo diet will typically have a lot of zinc and relatively less copper. But you take a standard "Western" diet, it has less minerals total and less zinc relative to copper. When does a ratio come into play… only when one interferes with the other I would expect, and that means you need a pretty wonky ratio. It's a safe bet that @Methodician has a ratio that is reasonably close to correct… not far enough off to be overly concerned.

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on May 31, 2014
at 10:49 PM

That is where it is at, Methodician. If you do not eat beef (or oysters, and there are also other shellfish, but none as good as oysters) your ratio can easily be in the 2/1 range.

The other two sources that I know of are skin, although I am unable to find numbers right now (but you can get an idea by, for example, comparing nutrition data numbers for whole chicken and chicken meat), and insects. The more I look at it the more I think that insects are a much better functional food than large animals, but also keep in mind that skin >> gelatin and whole animals >> muscle (we had another thread about this about a month ago).

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 03:40 AM

This is pretty interesting but I'd love to see some source for the skin thing. The chicken thigh vs thigh with skin comparison wasn't compelling and the data for plain pork skin shows little zinc...

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 31, 2014
at 11:25 PM

Except you can go too far with the nose-to-tail concept… it's faulty thinking to say more liver is better because whole-animal is better than muscle. Whole animal is whole animal, and that includes much larger fractions of lean muscle. You take a normal diet and warp it into a dysfunctional one.

0
0ba891d22837788c4d5ccf3f33f60329

on May 31, 2014
at 09:54 PM

Just curious, why are you worried about it? From my reading a high ratio of copper to zinc doesn't affect zinc absorption significantly, so if you're getting enough total zinc I'm not sure the need to look at Cu:Zn ratio in this case. Too much copper is theoretically a concern without a lot of zinc to inhibit absorption, but at typical dietary intakes risk toxicity seems to be low. Just my opinion.

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 03:30 AM

I ask mainly because I'm wondering if I need to worry about it at all. Sometimes Paleohacks answers my questions our right but if not people usually provide some good leads for my own research. Thanks!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 31, 2014
at 09:59 PM

+1 because Mscott needs more points.

0
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 31, 2014
at 09:52 PM

I agree with @wtfgod on all his recommendations.

Except… are you really eating outside a reasonable ratio of Zn:Cu? The RDAs are a ratio of ~10:1 (depends on what recommendations you actually look at too). If you've meet the minimum needs of both and you're not consuming an abnormal amount of Cu/Zn to throw it off, you're fine. And by abnormal amount, I mean an order of magnitude more than you should.

Also… liver should not be a staple, should be considered a supplement or functional food.

Medium avatar

(624)

on June 03, 2014
at 03:23 AM

Thanks. I don't make Liver a staple. It's just one of the many foods I eat that tend to throw my balance off. The largest contributors are probably chocolate, liver, and oddly oysters because they were my way to get out of supplementing before I realized they have quite a bit of copper themselves.

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