Zinc is an essential trace mineral. It is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body.

We have about 2-3 grams of Zinc in our bodies. 60% of that is contained in our muscle cells and about 30% can be found in our bones. The balance is spread through the teeth, hair, nails, skin, liver and prostate.

Functions of Zinc 

Zinc plays a crucial role in supporting the immune system. It also has an anti-microbial effect, assisting to kill inhaled bacteria. In order to kill any bacteria that comes into the mouth, we also secrete Zinc in our saliva.

This mineral also assists in the proper functioning of the thyroid. It is used to make the hormone TRH, which signals the thyroid to make thyroid hormone.

Zinc is also an essential mineral in the converting of the proteins we consume into amino acids. In addition it is used by enzymes to produce collagen and alkaline phosphatase (ALP), both of which help in bone formation.

Zinc is known to be an effective antioxidant. It protects cell membranes from oxidative stress caused by such other metals as copper or iron.

Signs of Deficiency

It is estimated that more than 2 billion people around the world are deficient in Zinc. 12% of Americans do not consume the RDA *(Recommended Daily Allowance)

The signs of Zinc deficiency are:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Moodiness
  • Less keen sense of taste or smell

If you have any of the above signs, contact your health care professional for an evaluation. A blood test will be able to determine if you are deficient.

Vegetarians are at a higher risk of deficiency. This is due to the fact that many vegetarians consume grains which contain high levels of a substance called Phytic acid. This compound binds to Zinc, dramatically reducing it’s bioavailability. As a result, Zinc from plant sources is not as well absorbed.

Zinc is part of more than 400 enzymes in the body. Deficiency can make those enzyme systems less efficient, or even turn them off completely. This will affect our ability to taste, our appetite and our overall ability to function.

Each passing decade sees lower levels of Zinc in the foods that we eat due to increased processing methods.

Some people though, are actually born with low levels. Zinc is naturally difficult to absorb through food because of the type of ion that it is.

In most foods that we consume, only about 30% of the Zinc in those foods is actually absorbed by the body.

How to Get More: 

The ideal way to get more zinc is through whole foods. The following foods are relatively high in Zinc:

  • Green peas
  • Beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Sea Vegetables
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Oysters
  • Organic, grass fed beef and dairy
  • Organic liver

In order to increase your absorption of Zinc from these sources you can soak beans and grains in water before cooking them. This will help to remove the Phytic acid from those foods.

Have the water temperature at about 60 degrees Celsius and soak for about three hours. You should also consume more leavened grains as opposed to unleavened.

Supplementation

When choosing a Zinc supplement, make sure that the product is manufactured by a high quality supplement provider.

They should be using an independent third party laboratory to analyse the raw materials that are in the supplement. Make sure that the supplement is free from lead or other heavy metals. The formula should include multiple types of Zinc compound. This will improve the bioavailability.

The ideal zinc supplement dosage is 30 to 40 mg per day. Check with your medical practitioner for the correct dose for you.

Summary

  • Boosts immunity
  • Improves thyroid function
  • Deficiency leads to lack of appetite
  • Can be found in beef and dairy
  • Supplement with 30-40 mg per day. Check with your medical practitioner for the correct dose for you.

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