Zinc is the Paul Giamatti of supplements – A star in a supporting role.
People are focused on the macro side of nutrition by looking at fats, carbs and proteins that this mineral is easy to overlook. We are quite good at incorporating entire food groups and doing our best to avoid others. Reading nutritional labels to review serving size, calories, fats, sugars, is also a popular health focus. But we aren’t quite so vigilant about vitamins and minerals. As a matter of fact, the FDA notes almost 50% of the US population has a nutritional deficiency. Just like Mary, there is something about zinc. You may look more at closely at this mineral after reading this.
THE ESSENTIAL TRACE MINERAL
There are 24 essential vitamins and minerals, 12 of each. Essential means our body cannot make these so they must be consumed. Intake is absolutely crucial to healthy physiologic functioning. You may become chronically sick and at the least do not feel well, if you are deficient.
Zinc is found in our muscles, bones, kidneys, pancreas, retina, teeth, hair, skin, liver, blood cells, prostate, and testes. You begin to imagine what can go wrong if adequate amounts of zinc are not available to us in our diet.
Zinc is better absorbed from animal than from plant sources. Many plant-based foods contain phytic acid. This substance binds to minerals like iron and zinc and inhibits the body’s ability to absorb them. Vegetarians and vegans are more likely to have zinc deficiencies.
THE TASTE TEST
A quick taste test at home can reveal if you are zinc deficient. Pour about 2 tablespoons of water-based zinc solution into a cup and drink the solution. If it tastes like water then you are deficient. If it tastes metallic or bitter than you likely have adequate zinc stores. You can purchase this zinc solution at most health food stores and we carry it here at our office.
BENEFITS OF ZINC
Zinc kicks the common cold’s butt. The duration and severity of symptoms may be reduced by up to 40%.
IMMUNE SYSTEM & TISSUE REPAIR
Even mild to moderate zinc deficiency can impair our immune defenses, affecting macrophage and neutrophil functions. These two types of white blood cells help engulf and digest cellular debris, foreign substances, infectious bacteria, and cancer cells. Studies in the elderly show a 66% decrease in infections when supplemented with zinc.
Zinc plays a crucial role in skin integrity and structure. Studies show that patients experiencing chronic wounds or ulcers had deficient zinc metabolism and lower serum zinc levels.
LEARNING AND MEMORY
Studies reveal that zinc plays a crucial role in regulating neuron communication, affecting how we learn and memory formation.
Zinc deficient children and adolescents have positive behavioral and cognitive outcomes following zinc supplementation. Also, zinc facilitates the effectiveness of ADHD drugs allowing for lower dosing to achieve beneficial results.
Zinc helps control diarrhea and prevent future bouts of the condition.
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
Zinc and antioxidants delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) possibly by preventing cellular damage in the retina.
HORMONES & FERTILITY
Zinc plays a part in regulating vital fertility hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Most people with hypothyroidism are zinc deficient. Zinc is required to produce thyroid hormone and any inadequacy can lead to hypothyroidism. Zinc increases Free T3, lowers RT3, lowers TSH.
Zinc treatment prevents dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramping) and helps regulate ovulation.
Zinc blocks excess androgens (testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen) and helps kills bacteria by improving white cell function. Pores open and acne is decreased.
REDUCES INFLAMMATION & OXIDATIVE STRESS
Zinc is a powerful antioxidant. Deficiency of zinc leads to a buildup of free radicals thus exposing DNA to damage and age-related diseases. Zinc supplementation decreases oxidative stress biomarkers and decreases inflammatory cytokines.
SIGNS OF ZINC DEFICIENCY
BEST FOOD SOURCES
Age and sex help determine your dietary needs, but other considerations should be made. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers have higher requirements. Athletes may be eliminating zinc in their sweat and will require replacement. Consult your physician before supplementing.
Zinc is widely available as a nutritional supplement.
|GENERAL RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCE|
|0-6 Months||2 mg/day|
|7-12 Months||3 mg/day|
|1-3 Years||3 mg/day|
|4-8 Years||5 mg/day|
|9-13 Years||8 mg/day|
|Males 14 and over||11 mg/day|
|Females 14 to 18||9 mg/day|
|Females 19 and over||8 mg/day|
Zinc may start with the last letter of the alphabet but this important essential mineral supports the entire alphabet soup of vitamins and minerals that come before ‘z.’ Think of it as the Zeus of your health!