Zinc is an indispensable trace mineral playing an essential role in each and every cell. In fact, human zinc-containing enzymes is greater than all other trace mineral-dependent enzymes combined. There are over 300 zinc required functions involved in the human body.4
It should be no surprise then that zinc is of critical importance in a multitude of biological processes to keep our bodies healthy. Here are a few:
- Growth and development zinc is needed to produce our growth hormones in growing children, and also in replacing old cells in adults and children alike.5
- Gastrointestinal health: zinc is needed to keep our intestinal cells which absorb nutrients in peak condition. It keeps the structure strong which allows nutrients to be accepted past intestinal walls into the bloodstream, and stops big particles creating tears in the structure. It also protects from inflammation and damage caused by inflammation.7
- Antioxidant protection: zinc provides antioxidant protection. It is needed to form a vital enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD) a scavenger of free radicals. It helps protect us from vitamin E depletion, an important anti-oxidant in itself which lengthens the life of vitamin C, helps to keep our nerve cells healthy.
- Prostate health: the prostate contains the highest zinc concentration of any soft tissue. Dietary zinc deficiency is correlated with increased DNA damage in the prostate during oxidative stress, creating an even higher need for zinc to fix the damage, and thus beginning the possibility of a vicious zinc deficiency cycle.8
- Fertility – male: fertility is dependent on adequate zinc due to its critical role in the formation and mature spermatozoa, as well as ovulation and fertilization.
- Fertility – female: fertility is dependent on adequate zinc due to its critical role in ovulation and fertilization.
- Pregnancy and lactation: Zinc is recognized as a key nutrient in embryogenesis, as well as fetal growth and development.9 There is specific interest in zinc’s role in pregnancy regarding the prevention of pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restrictions, both of which have oxidative stress as a driving component.10
- DNA: “DNA zinc fingers” which are critical to the replication of correct DNA in cells for many types of functions.
- Immunity: Zinc helps our immune systems work correctly, helping us to prevent and to get better from viruses and cold when they do strike.
- Autoimmunity: Zinc helps to body to not attack itself, and only foreign pathogens by regulating our immune systems T helper cells… Autoimmune conditions include Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Vitiligo, and Lupus and coeliac disease amongst others.
- Allergic reactions: Zinc helps our immune system to tell the difference between parasites and non-threatening substances such as pollen and foods when they get into our bloodstream or touch our skin.
- Emotional Health: Zinc has a high concentration in the hippocampus, an important part of the brain. It is needed to balance brain nerve transmitters (neurotransmitters), nerve cell length, and hippocampus health as well. Less ability to cope with stress and anxiety can occur with zinc deficiency. Further, in depressed states, the brain has lower levels of “Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).” It has been shown that having improved levels of zinc when depressed can help rebuild levels of BDNF.
- Insulin and metabolic management: Zinc helps to transport glucose within skeletal muscle cells, enhance insulin signals in cells.
What can you do?
Dr. Andrew Arnold adds, ‘Consider a chat with our local Naturopath Sharon Wilde for a nutritional assessment.’
If low on zinc, Sharon can check for and treat conditions that can lower zinc if indicated. such as MTHFR gene mutations, or excess serum copper, or not being able to absorb zinc from your food due to gastrointestinal conditions. Give dietary recommendations to increase zinc foods ingestion. Recommend good quality highly absorbable forms of zinc supplements.
About the Author:
Sharon is our resident Naturopath at Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Ctr. She was introduced to Naturopathy as eighteen when her mother dragged her to get treatment for a variety of health problems. What began as a desire to understand and support her own health has morphed into a passion to help others live their healthiest lives possible.
After seven years of training, Sharon is a fully qualified Naturopath. She draws upon years of wisdom and experience to carefully assess your current situation and explain your treatment choices.
Sharon says: “With the right information a customized naturopathic care plan can be created to fit your situation and lifestyle. The holistic approach fosters wellbeing and puts your health back into your hands. That’s empowering!”