Think You’re Getting Enough Zinc?

ZincNecessary for the function of more than 300 different enzymes, zinc is “essential for virtually all processes in the human body.” But even though Mother Nature wisely put a little zinc into most foods, it’s still easy to come up short.

Known as the cold-fighting mineral, zinc is needed for every aspect of immune function. Zinc is also used in the synthesis and function of DNA and RNA, making it essential for reproduction and growth. It’s needed for neurological, eye, and heart health, and for healthy bones and glucose metabolism. Vitamin A can’t function without it. Zinc reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, supports detoxification, and plays roles in digestion, metabolism and protein synthesis.

But like other minerals, zinc is significantly depleted in US soils: A carrot today may have 95% less zinc than a carrot grown sixty years ago. Phosphate fertilizers and sewage sludge used in conventional agriculture are also highly contaminated with cadmium, which competes with zinc, inhibiting its absorption.

Zinc is further lost in food refining and processing, including cooking.

In earlier times, galvanized cooking pots, storage vessels and pipes used in plumbing leached zinc into food and water, but these aren’t generally used today. Instead, copper pipes and cooking utensils have become more common; and excessive amounts of copper inhibit zinc absorption. Dental amalgams and IUDs are also sources of copper.

Another problem is eating refined sugar. The refining process strips away zinc and other minerals needed to metabolize sugar, so these minerals have to be taken from the body’s reserves.

Acidic diets rob the body of zinc and other buffering minerals.

Dairy is acidifying, and the casein in dairy inhibits zinc absorption.

Stress, trauma and chronic infections deplete zinc, as do many medications. Due to widespread antibiotic use, many people suffer from intestinal malabsorption.

Even “healthy” diets can be problematic. The richest food source of zinc is red meat, followed by fish and chicken. Vegan and vegetarian diets often rely heavily on grains and soy; the phytic acid in these bind with zinc in the intestines and prevent it from being absorbed. Vegetarian diets are also high in copper and low in zinc. For these reasons, the government recommends vegetarians get twice as much zinc as non-vegetarians.

Exercise or using a sauna causes loss of zinc in sweat.

As we age, we absorb less zinc. Also, many older people don’t eat well and take multiple medications. It’s no wonder that almost half the older population is deficient in zinc.

How would you know if you’re deficient? According to Emily Ho, PhD, of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, zinc status is tricky to ascertain, and marginal deficiency symptoms are “pretty nondescript.” The best insurance for most people is supplementing with 25-50 mg a day and with higher amounts to address specific problems in consultation with a healthcare provider.

You’ll get 35 mg of highly absorbance and utilizable zinc daily if you’re taking Beyond Health’s Multi and our Bone Mineral Formula. For additional premium quality zinc, use Beyond Health Zinc Formula and Zinc and Throat Guard Lozenges.

Zinc is non-toxic and doesn’t bio-accumulate. A potential problem, however, is that it competes for absorption with copper. Substantial amounts of supplemental zinc should be balanced with some copper, as they are in our Multi and Bone Mineral Formula.

Good health depends on having adequate amounts of certain foundation nutrients. Zinc is one of those foundation nutrients that is indispensable for good health.

References:

  1. Frassinetti S. The role of zinc in life: a review. Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology, and Oncology. 2006;25(3):597-610.
  2. Haase H. Multiple impacts of zinc on immune function. Metallomics. July 2014;6(7):1175-1180.
  3. Bonaventura P. Zinc and its role in immunity and inflammation. Autoimmunity Reviews. April 2015;14(4):277-285.
  4. Prasad AS. Zinc supplementation decreases incidence of infections in the elderly: effect of zinc on generation of cytokines and oxidative stress. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. March 2007;85(3):837-844.
  5. Scheer R. & Moss D. Dirt poor: have fruits and vegetables become less nutritious? Scientific American. Published online April 27, 2011.
  6. Baranski M. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. British Journal of Nutrition. September 2014;112(5):794-811.
  7. Kimura M. Cooking losses of minerals in foods and its nutritional significance. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 1990;36(Supp1):S25-33.
  8. Warner L. Copper-zinc imbalance: unrecognized consequence of plant-based diets and a contributor to chronic fatigue. Weston A. Price Foundation, posted February 14, 2008.
  9. National academies.org. Dietary Reference Intakes: Elements. 2001.
  10. Cabrera AJR. Zinc, aging, and immunosenescence: an overview. Pathobiology of Aging and Age Related Diseases. Pub online February 5, 2015.
  11. Linus Pauling Institute Interview with Emily Ho, PhD. Zinc: from diabetes to cancer. The Linus Pauling Institute Research Newsletter. Fall/Winter 2008;1,3-5.
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