Zinc is a mineral widely available and used throughout the body. Many people are deficient in this mineral for number of reasons as mentioned below.
- Our soil is becoming more and more deficient due to overfarming and lack of proper fertilisation of the land.
- Many medications/over the counter drugs and social drugs deplete zinc.
- Imbalanced diets e.g vegetarians/vegans who do not get enough variety in. Once I worked with a strict vegetarian who ate no vegetables only processed refines starches and grains ( breads, pastas, etc) having a vegetarian label does not make you healthy!
- Overcooking food and cooking food in water can leach up to 50% of the zinc levels in our foods.
- Refining and the processing of foods such as wheat and baked goods can lead to 75% zinc loss approx.
- Excessive sweating
- Excessive iron and protein intake
- Copper in high amounts.
Zinc is needed for more than 300 enzymes in the body, because of this, being deficient in it can contribute to many symptoms such as poor sense of taste, smell, leaky gut, inflammation of the gut, weight loss, poor sleep patterns, jaw tension, weak nails, poor hair growth, depression, apathy, slow wound healing, skin problems and irritations, poor appetite, feelings of being unwell due to impaired liver function and detoxification. Some of the functions of the enzyme dependent on zinc include enzymes whose function it is to produce protein such as collagen and those involved in wound healing.
It also plays a huge role in the normal carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. Zinc deficiency can impair carbohydrate metabolism therefore insulin /blood sugars can be affected. Sometimes this plays a key role in balanced moods, blood sugars, false hunger cravings and hypoglycaemia.
Zinc plays a very important role in normal cognitive function, therefore memory and concentration. I have found zinc particularly important in children who have learning difficulties and or sleep/concentration difficulties. Children can be born low in zinc if their mother for instance already had lower than normal levels. Zinc is very important for brain growth and function and may older people can have poor memory because of a deficiency of zinc. This is also linked to cortisol levels as high levels of the stress hormone cortisol are often as a result of lack of zinc as zinc help to bring the stress hormone back into balance. With high cortisol levels you simple cannot think straight. Then add the stress of these feelings in on top of the original stress and a vicious circle begins!
Zinc is very important at maintaining a healthy acid/alkaline balance in the body fluids. it is very important for normal home balance and fertility and reproduction. Zinc plays a very important function in the maintenance of normal bones. It regulates the secretion of calcitonin from the thyroid gland and therefore influences bone turnover. Zinc supplementation alone significantly reduces the risks of age-related macular degeneration and it also contributes largely to normal function of the immune system.
Zinc often has to be supplemented over period depending on the persons problems and deficients. A good zinc supplement must be used and not one containing bulking agents and additives. It must state food supplement on the label.
Natural sources include leafy green vegetables, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, lentils, fish, celery, wholegrains. All of which must be eaten in conjunction with a well balanced diet.