Zinc: The Miracle Mineral
…. And Its Many Health Benefits
Did you know that you can improve almost all aspects of your health by making sure that you get enough zinc in your diet? Many people know about zinc for its immune-boosting properties, but this essential mineral has several other health benefits as well.
Zinc is an essential mineral that is found in every tissue in the body, and has many interconnected roles. It is most highly concentrated in bones, the retina, and organs like the kidneys and liver. It plays a crucial role in hundreds of enzymes in the body and is directly involved in cell division and cell growth. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. And as we continue to grow, adequate zinc is necessary for optimal physical performance and energy levels.
Zinc plays an important role in immunity. It supports white blood cell production and activates B and T immune cells that are necessary to fight viruses and bacteria. It is found in the mucous secretions of the respiratory tract—on lungs and throat— hence its ability to reduce the severity and duration of cold viruses.
Zinc also plays a crucial role in wound healing, male reproductive health and fertility, skin health, formation of bone, brain function & mood, and maintenance of optimal hormone levels. Low levels of zinc have been found in those with major depression and there have been studies showing benefits for children with autism and ADD/ADHD. It is also a powerful antioxidant, helping to form superoxide dismutase, an important antioxidant that helps the liver to remove toxins from the body.
Good food sources of zinc include animal proteins such as beef, lamb, chicken and eggs, oysters, fortified cereals and grains, legumes, nuts. Zinc is also found in most multivitamin and mineral supplements.
Those who suffer from a zinc deficiency may have difficulty absorbing zinc due to gastrointestinal issues and other absorption issues. Deficiency in zinc can also be caused by certain medications such as oral contraceptives, and in those with diabetes, liver or kidney disease.
Low zinc will produce an altered sense of taste leading to cravings of saltier, sweeter food. Deficiency can manifest in diverse symptoms ranging from diarrhea, low energy, chronic fatigue, infertility, hair loss, poor immunity, poor memory, inability to focus, behavioural problems, poor growth in children, frequent infections, slow wound healing, and poor night vision.
It is difficult to connect the root cause of zinc deficiency without proper testing. There are 3 types of tests that can be performed 1) Serum zinc testing measures zinc in the blood; 2) hair analysis measures longer-term zinc body stores; 3) and a specialized oral taste test can also be performed to assess zinc levels.
Dr. Bartolini is a Naturopathic Doctor with clinic locations in Oakville and Toronto. For more information, please visit: www.doctorbartolini.com