I had a client email me the other day who was not feeling mentally alert, kept coming with colds and a slight sore throat, a hard time sleeping and her hair was thinning. They were all symptoms that could be related to a number of issues, but nothing life shattering. She was young, otherwise healthy, and had a decent diet. One of my favorite minerals jumped to mind immediately. This could be a quick fix! I went to email her a link to an article on zinc from my archives. That’s when I realized… I didn’t have one!
I write about zinc a LOT in other posts but I didn’t have a single article dedicated to this vital mineral. Well, I couldn’t go another week calling myself a holistic nutritionist without giving zinc some attention.
This is a mineral I recommend supplementing with a lot of my clients. I take it myself on a regular basis. It’s a mineral that has been widely depleted in our environment and can be challenging to get through food alone. Zinc is involved in thousands of important physiological activities of our system, and deficiency can lead to hosts of symptoms. Read on to hear my top five reasons to make sure your zinc levels are in check, along with my supplement recommendations.
One of the first things I take when I feel a cold coming on is zinc. Zinc is incredibly powerful when it comes to supporting the immune system and combating colds. It helps our body fend off pathogens on a cellular level by upping the efficiency of immune cells. Maintaining healthy zinc levels also helps shield you from future bacterial invasions by making your cells stronger.
Zinc plays a crucial role in hormones which means it can have a big impact across the body. When hormones are unbalanced, it tends to have a domino effect that can lead to a maze of problematic symptoms.
Zinc is needed to support the conversion of T4 to the more active T3 hormone. This means insufficient zinc can prevent your thyroid from making enough active thyroid hormone, leaving you feeling sluggish and depressed.
Zinc is also known for balancing sex hormones, specifically testosterone, progesterone and estrogen, and plays a huge role in fertility for both men and women.
Additionally, zinc plays a role in balancing insulin by binding to the hormone and ensuring it’s used stored properly. This helps support insulin in effectively metabolizing sugar into energy, helping to prevent diabetes.
Helps Fight Cancer
Zinc decreases inflammation and has antioxidant properties. This means that it reduces the harmful effects of oxidation that can eventually lead to the formation of cancerous cells. It does this by helping to ensure healthy cell division and mitigates the damage that our cells endure. If you’re body is going through stress, whether emotional or physical, zinc can be a really great addition to help ease the physical repercussions.
Counterbalances Copper Overload
Our bodies rely on a carefully balanced ratio of copper to zinc. When one becomes deficient, the scales quickly tip. This causes toxicity of the over-abundant mineral and further deficiency in the other. When it comes to our environment, copper has the upper hand. Not only is our copper exposure elevated due to things like copper plumbing and IUDs, but our produce is devoid of zinc due to depleted soil. All of this is the perfect storm for copper to take on an unhealthy balance and zinc to become deficient.
High copper levels have been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, and may be implicated as the cause of postpartum depression. The easiest way to keep copper levels in check is to up zinc intake.
Ensures Proper Nutrient Absorption
It does this in a couple different ways. First off, the only way to adequately absorb nutrients is to fully break them down. This process is highly dependent on producing adequate levels of stomach acid. Zinc is an important building block that enables your body to create stomach acid and break down foods. Low levels can lead to low stomach acid which leaves you with heartburn and the inability to breakdown food into nutrients. Zinc is also the one in charge of releasing Vitamin A from the liver, ensuring adequate balance of this vital nutrient.
Foods High in Zinc
Here are the top food sources of zinc, although keep in mind the absorption rate of zinc is best from foods that don’t contain any nutrients, which are usually animal-based as opposed to plant-based (average adult women 8 mg./day and men 11 mg./day; If you have any health issues, the amount of zinc you need goes up substantially):
Sesame Seeds – 1/4 cup = 10 mg.
Watermelons Seeds – 1/4 cup = 10 mg
Wheat Germ – 3 T = 8 mg.
Lamb – 3 ozs. = 2.9 mg.
Grass-fed Beef – 3 ozs. = 2.6 milligrams
Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans) – 1 cup cooked = 2.5 mg.
Pumpkin Seeds – 2 T = 2.2 mg.
Cashews – ¼ cup = 1.9 mg.
Pine Nuts – 1 T = 1.8 mg.
Hummus – 1/4 cup 1.1 mg.
Chicken – 3 ounces = 1 mg.
Turkey – 3 ounces = 1 mg.
Lentils – 1/4 cup = 0.6 mg.
Unfortunately, the more pollution we encounter, the more zinc we lose, and the fruits and vegetables we grow for food no longer contain adequate amounts of this essential mineral.Again, this mineral requires a healthy balance and unfortunately our environment forces us to swing in the wrong directions. Because of this, zinc is a mineral I recommend supplementing with regularly.
Look for a zinc sulfate supplement rather than a chelate or picolinate. I’ve been leaning towards liquid supplements lately, because they’re easier to absorb and they bypass digestion and go directly into the bloodstream within minutes. (In fact, the body absorbs approximately 98 percent of the vitamins and minerals contained in liquid form and only absorbs anywhere from 3 to 20 percent of the vitamins in a vitamin pill.) Avoid the many zinc liquid supplements that are loaded with citric acid, natural flavors, alcohol, and other toxic ingredients. I use a clean, high-quality liquid ionic zinc, called Eidon Ionic Minerals. You can take it everyday and/or when you feel like you’re experiencing extra stress, you feel a cold coming, or when you’re feeling a little run down.