ZINC is considered the ‘balancing, stabilizing mineral’ in hair analysis. It has a sedative and anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
Zinc is essential for the normal function of over 100 enzyme systems in the body. It’s the activator for many key enzymes. It is also needed for the production of digestive enzymes. Zinc helps produce insulin, release it and prolong its effect. Zinc also is required for synthesis of pancreatic enzymes and hydrochloric acid. Zinc is needed for insulin storage. Zinc depletion is found generally in all forms of diabetes but more so in Type 1.
Zinc is important for appetite regulation (low zinc is a key issue in anorexia). You may find if you have picky eaters that they are low in zinc (they may have elevated copper).
The highest concentration of zinc is found in the eye and optic nerve.
The skin also has a high concentration of zinc and can be a sensitive indicator of an individual’s zinc status, since the body will often draw the mineral from peripheral tissues when needed elsewhere by the body.
Zinc is found in the adrenal glands, bone, brain, heart, kidneys, liver, muscles, prostate gland, spleen, and testes. The adrenal glands, for example, need adequate zinc for optimal function -zinc plays a role in helping to raise potassium (potassium is an adrenal mineral as it correlates with cortisone/cortisol) levels in the body. Zinc raises potassium by stimulating glucocorticoid activity. Copper, on the other hand, drives potassium out of the body when it is in excess.
Zinc is critical for the thyroid, as it is needed for thyroid stimulating hormone to work. Zinc deficiency will impair your ability to convert T4 to T3 in the liver and kidneys. When thyroid hormone is low one can experience hair loss or hair thinning. Women lose zinc each month during menstruation as well. This is so important to know – so you can eat more zinc rich foods during that time.
Alcohol causes the body to lose critical stores of zinc through the kidneys. Also, zinc can be lost in the sweat, if you have a job or lifestyle where you sweat profusely you likely are losing a lot of zinc that needs to be replaced.
Conditions associated with relative zinc deficiency:
- AIDS, Autism, Candida, Depression, Eclampsia, Fungus, Gastric Ulcers, PMS, PPD, Pregnancy, Viruses, Immune Deficiency.
Conditions associated with absolute zinc deficiency:
- Macular degeneration, manic depression, peptic ulcers, prostate enlargement, RA, sterility, immune suppression, loss of smell and taste, slow wound healing
Our bodies have an intricate system for managing and regulating the amount of key trace metals, such as zinc, copper, iron, manganese, chromium. A very common imbalance in this system is an excess of copper and a deficiency of zinc.
Copper and zinc are not only minerals, but they also have some of the functions of a neurotransmitter. Therefore, the balance between copper and zinc is a crucial one. An imbalance can lead to hyperactivity, anorexia, ADD, ADHD, behavioral disorders, depression, severe PMS, headaches, poor immune function, skin problems, and much more. Replenishing your body of zinc has been shown to help the symptoms of these health issues.
Too much zinc in the diet or from dietary supplements can impair copper nutrition. This interaction can occur in two ways. Firstly, copper and zinc may directly compete for absorption from our gastrointestinal tract. Secondly, diets high in zinc may lead to overproduction of a protein called metallothionein, a protein that binds both copper and zinc. A general rule of thumb is 1 mg of copper for every 15 mg of zinc. Unless you are trying to reduce excess copper or correct zinc deficiency.
Zinc and selenium help increase metallothionine which is the protector of the gut…without zinc on board, metallothionine becomes a pro-oxidant (copper dominant) and can no longer defend the gut. Metallothionine also protects the brain from heavy metals, reduces oxidative stress (copper), balances copper and zinc, and helps clear other heavy metals like mercury, cadmium and lead.
Food Sources of Zinc
- Oysters, 6 medium = 76.7 mg
- Beef, 4 oz = 4.09 mg
- Lamb, 4 oz = 3.87 mg
- Turkey, 4 oz = 1.95
- Shrimp, 4 oz = 1.85 mg
- Scallops, 4 oz = 1.76
- Yogurt, 1 cup = 1.45 mg
- Sesame Seeds, 1/4 cup = 2.79 mg
- Pumpkin Seeds, 1/4 cup = 2.52 mg
- Garbanzo beans, 1 cup = 2.51 mg
- Lentils, 1 cup = 2.51 mg
- Cashews, 1/4 cup = 2.31 mg
- Quinoa, 3/4 cup = 2.02 mg
- Oats, 1/4 cup = 1.55 mg
- Herbs that contain zinc: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Dill, Cardamom
Lamb is one of my FAVORITE sources of zinc. My kids LOVE these lamb meatballs. Oysters are great too, as long as they are sustainably sourced, but not many people enjoy them. If you are one of the brave few that do, try my Oysters Bienville sometime; it’s such a treat. Zinc from animal sources seems to be better absorbed than the zinc in vegetable sources.
More Recipes That Are Good Sources of Zinc
Supplementing With Zinc
Now, there is a specific way to add supplemental zinc and everyone WILL be different in the amount they need – so please don’t just go out and take a lot of zinc via supplements. It is best to consult with your health care practitioner before supplementing with zinc.
Until you are sure of your specific zinc needs, be sure to consume zinc-rich foods through a nutrient-dense diet (refer to the list above). The U.S. RDA is likely too low of a recommendation for optimal health in light of soil depletion and excess stored copper ( a very common problem today).
To work on balancing your zinc you have to know what you are dealing with; it can’t be done overnight or in a random fashion. A systemic approach to restoring all minerals in balance is so important.
Testing is key, and a hair tissue mineral analysis is a great test to get started with, and then if needed, a comprehensive copper panel so you can see your ceruloplasmin levels and the current balance of copper to zinc.
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