Zinc

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General Description:

  • a component of dozens of enzymes including some that metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and alcohol, some essential for cell growth, and some necessary for testosterone production
  • much of the blood’s zinc is found in the RBCs
  • skin holds 20% of the body’s zinc
  • zinc picolinate is better than sulphate

Actions:

  • body pool of Zn is small and needs to be constantly replaced
  • inadequate zinc, even for one week, retards muscle growth and weakens immunity
  • possibly to relieve colds, certain skin troubles, and bring back the sense of taste and smell
  • plays a role in the body’s synthesis of protein
  • helps build strong bones
  • has a major effect on the sense of smell and taste
  • helps to rid the blood of carbon dioxide
  • involved in the making of RNA and DNA
  • provides invaluable help in wound healing
  • adequate zinc is essential for normal testosterone levels and sperm counts
  • Wilson’s disease is a rare genetic disorder where the body stores too much copper, which accumulates in the brain and liver and can be life threatening if not treated.
  • zinc supplementation may help to prevent excessive copper stores
  • doctors are experimenting with zinc in the possible treatment of: sickle cell anemia, anorexia, acne, rheumatoid arthritis, and for strengthening the immune system in the elderly

Deficiency:

  • key symptoms in general: decreased growth, enlarged spleen, and delayed sexual maturation
  • key symptoms in children: poor appetite, suboptimal growth, decreased sense of taste and smell, and mood changes
  • other symptoms: scaliness of the skin, delayed wound healing, depression, fatigue, hair loss, diarrhea, and decreased resistance to infection
  • zinc deficiency ironically affects both poor and wealthy nations because both too little and too much processing can result in deficiency
  • disorders that can lead to zinc deficiency are: alcoholism, chronic infections or inflammatory diseases, kidney disease, pancreatic disease, psoriasis, sickle-cell anemia, and thalassemia
  • processing can work in zinc’s favor by removing naturally occurring substances, fiber, phytates, that adversely affect absorption
  • phytates are found mostly in cereals, grains, and unleavened breads but research has shown that yeast and fermentation can break them down
  • zinc is lost via sweating, hemolysis, increased fatty acid metabolism accompanying exercise, multiple interactions with iron metabolism, and the added testosterone required for muscle growth

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • additives in food (processing) may inhibit zinc absorption, for example, EDTA in canned foods, beer, pop, and products rich in vegetable oils
  • EDTA traps metal impurities that ravel into food, but also traps zinc (a metal)
  • high doses of zinc can lead to copper deficiency
  • a higher zinc-to-copper ratio has been found in patients with confirmed heart disease
  • exercise has been linked to a decreased risk for heart disease, partly because exercise boosts HDL and also exercise may narrow the gap between zinc and copper
  • zinc is also lost in sweat leading to a better balance with copper
  • high blood pressure promotes heart disease
  • some hypertensive patients excrete large amounts of copper, which can create a further imbalance between zinc and copper, and further increase the rick of heart disease
  • zinc may have a tendency to lower HDL cholesterol if taken in large doses (30 mg. of zinc/day had no effect)
  • high doses of zinc can impair the body’s ability to fight infection
  • calcium may inhibit zinc absorption
  • antibiotics, anticancer drugs, diuretics, metal-binding drugs, and oral contraceptives can interfere with zinc nutrition as well
  • excess zinc interferes with copper metabolism

Sources:

  • pumpkin seeds, eggs, oysters

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