Who's at Risk?
Several groups of people are at risk of developing dietary zinc deficiency. If you restrict your food to vegetables, and particularly wholegrain cereals, you could become deficient in zinc. Although zinc is present in these foods, it is not utilized by the body as efficiently as the zinc in other sources, such as meat, eggs and liver. Alcoholics also develop zinc deficiency, due to an inadequate diet and to large losses of zinc in their urine. Zinc deficiency also appears to be a problem in some disease states.
Why are We Deficient?
Inadequate zinc intake can result in retarded growth, delayed wound healing, loss of taste sensation, hair loss, skin problems, irregular periods, sleep disturbances, weakened immune system, fertility problems, allergies, night blindness, lack of smell and taste, and dermatitis. Other symptoms which may indicate a deficiency are depression, frequent colds and infections, growth failure in children, and loss of appetite according to George Mateljan at the Worlds Healthiest Foods Organization He also advises that much of the zinc is being lost due to food processing, stating that almost 75% of the original zinc is lost in our breads, cereals, baked goods and pastas. Because of this we need to have a well rounded diet finding our nutrition from varied sources. The amino acid cysteine helps to transport and store zinc in our bodies, so if there is a deficiency of this particular part of protein it can also result in a zinc deficiency.
A deficiency can be created not only from diet, but alcohol intake, protein deficiency, diarrhea, sweating, or an insufficient output by the pancreas. Certain medications can tamper with our body's absorption such as some antibiotics, oral contraceptives, stomach antacids, blood pressure medications or diuretics.
Boost your immune system with zinc.
According to George Mateljan at the Worlds Healthiest Foods Organization Zinc may play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following health conditions:
- Alzheimer's disease
- Anorexia nervosa
- Atopic dermatitis
- Benign prostatic hypertrophy
- Cervical dysplasia
- Common cold
- Crohn's disease
- Graves' disease
- Herpes simplex
- Infertility (male)
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Macular degeneration
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Senile cataracts
Vary Your Sources
The recommended daily dietary intake of zinc needs to come from different food sources, such as animal and plant. Our bodies need zinc for many different functions, which include protein and carbohydrate metabolism, wound healing, growth and vision.
Zinc is a Team Player
Supplemental zinc, however, when in the wrong dosage can impair the bodies' supply of copper and calcium, but zinc aids and supports other nutrients and body functions. For example without zinc, vitamin A cannot be transported for use to other parts of the body or be used efficiently by the body. Zinc is absorbed more easily in the body when linked to other supplements, which is why it is often referred to as "chelated" on the label, meaning connected with another molecule.
Which Foods Provide Zinc?
Good sources include sea vegetables, basil, thyme, spinach, pumpkin seeds, yeast, beef, calves liver, crimini mushrooms, lamb, summer squash, asparagus, venison, chard, spinach, collard greens, miso, shrimp, maple syrup, broccoli, peas, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and mustard greens. For more health properties of basil and thyme read "Spice Your Way to a Healthier Life."
Chart from Worlds Healthiest Foods
Zinc is in All Parts of the Body
According to http://www.healthvitaminsguide.com the mineral zinc is present in every part of the body; 60% found in muscles, 30% in bone and approximately 5% in our skin taking part in a wide array of functions from healing wounds to protecting the immune system.
Males Require 1/3 More than Females
Particularly high concentrations are found in the prostrate gland and semen. Because semen contains 100 times more zinc than a male's blood, the more sexually active a male is the more zinc he will require with an average male needing 1/3 more than the female.
Zinc is Found in Virtually Every Cell of the Body
The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines by Michael Murray, N.D. advises that not only is zinc found in virtually every cell of the body, but it is a component of over 200 enzymes. Enzymes are a necessary part of body functions and reactions. Zinc is also a necessary part of body hormones including insulin, growth, and sex.
Even Marginal Deficiency Can Affect Us
Although severe deficiency is rare, there are many individuals with marginal deficiency particularly among the elderly. Dietary surveys have determined that our intake is from only 47 to 67% of what our bodies require.
Zinc is Not Easily Absorbed
When taking zinc supplements or foods with zinc only about 20% is actually absorbed by the body. The absorption of zinc is inhibited by dietary fiber and phytic acide which is found in bran, wholegrain cereals and nuts.
Citrus Interacts with Zinc
One of the first things one does when they get a cold is load up on juices. While juices are a great tool at fighting off colds, we need to learn to arm ourselves with zinc and citrus within a different time frame. In studies conducted on the common cold it was found that zinc lozenges aided in reducing cold symptoms significantly, however the research also indicated that in order for the zinc to be effective it must be free of sorbitol, mannitol and citric acid. When the Cold-Eeze lozenges were used and participants dissolved one every two hours in their mouths, 86 % of those studies found symptoms greatly reduced. If using a zinc lozenge do not eat or drink citrus 1/2; hour before or after as the citrus negates the benefits of the zinc.
Zinc Improves Memory
One of the most common deficiencies for patients with Alzheimer's has been found to be zinc. Of ten patients studied, eight improved after given 27 mg. of zinc aspirate. There was a marked improvement in memory, understanding, social contact and communication.
Zinc deficiency has been linked to premature births, low birth weights, growth retardation, and preeclampsia.
High Doses Can Impair Immunity
For general health support and during pregnancy or lactation the recommended daily dose is 15 - 20 mg. for women, however for a specific health issue the dosage may range from 30 to 45 mg. for men and 20 to 30 mg. for men. For a cold the lozenges should be doubled with the first dose, and then one lozenge of 15 - 25 mg. of elemental zinc dissolved in the mouth every two hours of being awake. One should not exceed one week at this high dosage.
Please Consult Your Physician
As always, it is important to consult with your physician any time you have symptoms you are unfamiliar or concerned with and to advise your doctor of any supplements you may be taking. Any information supplied in this post is not meant to substitute for the medical advice of your family practitioner.Photo by: allrecipes.com
I am pretty zealous about my zinc! This post linked to ABC Wednesday!.