What the heck is Zinc?
The mineral Zinc can’t be produced by our bodies, which is why it’s known as an essential mineral, meaning it is essential to life and health.
Zinc is also regarded as a trace mineral, which means we only need it in small doses.
Despite the small amount it’s still needed for over 300 different enzyme reactions!
Enzyme reactions are natural biochemical processes that happen within different cells throughout the body and are happening all the time!
To give you an idea;
- hormonal reactions,
- the way we metabolise food,
- how food is absorbed,
- immune function, and even
- DNA replication
All rely on enzyme reactions. Amazing huh?
And, at the core of all these reactions is the need for ZINC!
Foods High In Zinc
Minerals, such as Zinc, that are important to help our bodies function, are found everywhere!
They’re found in inorganic substances found in rock and soil as well as being found in living tissue and plants.
As humans, we need minerals for proper composition of bones and blood to help us maintain cell function.
We obtain our minerals mainly from plant sources, so understanding the importance of soil nutrients and quality is really important because it gives us a better understanding of which minerals we might be missing out on and why.
Equally, we need to understand how some dietary restrictions can also cause mineral deficiency.
This is because certain minerals, such as Zinc, can also be found in meats, seafood and shellfish. Zinc deficiency may be found in people who avoid seafood (and in particular shellfish) but who are also not great vegetable eaters as well.
Heavily processed foods are also very low in zinc, as most of the mineral is removed during processing.
Over cooking foods may get rid of much of the zinc especially in vegetables (which is why homemade vege stock should be staple!).
In New Zealand you may often hear about our soil being “depleted” of nutrients. There are a few explanations to this statement.
Although New Zealand soil is varied throughout the country, most mineral content comes from volcanic rock bed which contains some minerals, but not all.
Heavy rain or flooding can also wash away important minerals, zinc being one of them.
Lack of vegetation growth can also result in a lack of minerals because the soil needs decomposing vegetation for further mineral repletion.
In New Zealand our soil is regarded as varied and “rich” but only a small percentage is actually regarded as fertile enough to grow food without too much interference.
Most of our agriculture relies on heavy fertilisation which actually further depletes the soil of important nutrients including minerals such as selenium and zinc, among others.
So, as you can see, minerals like Zinc are very important to the body – aka essential – but it’s important to understand why we might be deficient and what we can do about it.
The good news is our bodies are able to store a small amount of Zinc.
They store this mostly in muscles but it’s also found in high concentrations within red blood cells, white blood cells, bone, skin, kidneys, liver, prostate and the retina.
Kind of gives you a clue as to how many important organs zinc is good for, huh?!
Zinc Deficiency: How do you know if you’re lacking Zinc?
It was once believed that zinc deficiency was hard to come by, but with the modern diet being the way it is and the lack of minerals found in soil, it is now more common than say 50 – 60 years ago.
The most common symptoms of Zinc deficiency include:
- Skin issues such as poor wound healing, acne, dermatitis
- Hair loss
- Recurrent infections – poor immune function
- Reproductive issues for both women and men
- Depression/anxiety or other mood disorders
- Vision impairment
- Loss of smell or taste
- Digestive issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Zinc Benefits – Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Supplement With Zinc
Immune function – Zinc helps fight the colds!
Zinc is involved in just about every aspect of the immune process.
So, when Zinc levels are low the number of immune cells decrease. The thymus gland produces lower immune cells, and white blood cell function decreases.
Studies show that if you boost your zinc intake at the very onset of a cold you have a better chance of reducing the severity and length of a cold.
This is because Zinc can dramatically increase the production and function of these important immune cells that help fight colds.
It also has anti-viral capabilities by binding to specific cell receptor sites that are involved in calling on other viral promoting reactions, therefore Zinc may dampen down viral activity.
Another reason to supplement with Zinc during a cold is because this mineral is often deficient during an infection.
This is because white blood cells absorb and utilise zinc in higher amounts to fight a virus or bacterial infection.
Zinc Helps Balance Your Hormones
Zinc is needed for hormone production and proper hormone maintenance. Research shows that Zinc levels are directly associated with testosterone, oestrogen, progesterone and
Zinc ensures healthy receptor sites so that the . Examples of these organs include the thyroid, ovaries, adrenals, testes, hypothalamus, pituitary and pancreas.
So low levels of zinc may decrease thyroid hormone production leading to many other hormonal disruptions such as low progesterone production, low oestrogen production and low testosterone production.
Zinc is Needed for Healthy Skin
Zinc is an essential mineral for healthy skin and there are many reasons for this. As already discussed, immunity.
Where ever there is a wound then the immune system kicks into play. So, a zinc deficiency will slow the normal wound healing process down.
But, not only this, Zinc is also needed for DNA synthesis, so the replication of new skin cells relies on adequate amounts of Zinc!
There is also a lot of positive research around Zinc being used for dermatitis, boils, psoriasis and acne.
So, if you have been taking in this information so far…you will see that Zinc may certainly be helpful here!
Zinc is a very popular supplement for teenagers and I would strongly recommend using a Zinc complex alongside any topical skin care routine.
Zinc is Needed for Proper Food Digestion
This mineral is so important for digestion! Zinc is needed for the breakdown of fat, carbs and protein.
Zinc is needed for the different enzyme reactions that occur when metabolizing these important macro nutrients, so a deficiency in Zinc may cause symptoms such as leaky gut disorder, abdominal bloating, poor nutrient absorption (malabsorption), fatigue, anaemia ….the list goes on!
The thing to consider is that poor zinc intake may lead to these symptoms and these symptoms further exacerbate zinc intake.
If you have these types of symptoms it’s important to get to the bottom of why they might be occurring. Check in with your Qualified Health Practitioner who may refer you to a specialist if they see the need.
Zink Supports Proper Growth in Children
Zinc is a critical mineral for children. As already mentioned hormonal health relies on adequate amounts of Zinc and this is super important for the various stages of growth that children go through.
Growth works by specific hormones communicating with each other during these stages of growth so Zinc deficiency may cause drastic symptoms such as slow growth or loss of appetite.
One important reason to consider Zinc for children is for the central nervous system (CNS). Zinc is really important for brain and CNS health.
Zinc deficiency can be found in kids with learning difficulties or behavioural symptoms. It is essential for cognition but also motor development and function issues.
Zinc is Important for Eye Health
Zinc can be stored in the macula which is part of the retina which indicates the importance of this mineral for eye health.
A deficiency in Zinc may increase the risk of advanced age related macular degeneration.
Zinc works closely with vitamin A helping it to create melanin which protects the lens of the eye from oxidative damage.
There is now some research to suggest that taking Zinc alongside antioxidant supplementation may significantly reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Which Zinc Supplement should I take?
So, now you know why you should be taking Zinc, but there are so many different Zinc supplements out there. How do you know which one you should be taking?
Zinc is not easily absorbed into the blood stream unless it is bound to another substance (“chelated”).
For this reason, many companies now chelate zinc to amino acids or organic acids to help.
Radiance – Zinc Complex
Our most popular Zinc supplement is the Radiance Zinc Complex which uses Zinc Monomethionine.
This is Zinc which is bound to the amino acid Methionine, which some studies show is one of the most readily-absorbed amino acids.
This particular complex also includes other cofactor ingredients to help further boost absorption as well as support general immune, reproductive and skin health.
Ethical Nutrients – Mega Zinc Powder
Another popular Zinc supplement is the Ethical Nutrients Mega Zinc Powder. This is suitable for families because it can be given to adults and children from the ages of 4 and up.
This chelated Zinc is bound to the amino acid glycine – another well absorbed amino acid – allowing zinc to get into the bloodstream much more effectively compared to say Zinc sulphate or Zinc Oxide.
We get really awesome feedback from both products and in particular the powdered option due to its versatility as it can be used by children and adults.