Zinc & How To Avoid A Deficiency Of This Mineral | Amoils.com
While zinc is readily available from food, the type of foods that are high in zinc tend to be those eaten in Eastern rather than Western diets. This could well mean that you are actually deficient in zinc and as you age, the deficiency problem can increase. Even if you do not have an actual zinc deficiency, but your copper is high, then the body will act like it has a zinc deficiency.
Copper and zinc need to be in balance
This is because the ratio is more important than the actual level of either mineral.
The ideal ratio of zinc to copper is said to be around 8:1. Zinc absorption might be compromised by supplementing with other minerals such as iron. A research study published in 2003 observed that iron supplements can interfere with zinc uptake.
Zinc is critical for good skin health because of its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are extremely important in protecting the body against free radicals (those tiny chemical particles that turn food into energy). When these free radicals get out of control, they can attack the body, damage our cells and possibly cause premature ageing, heart disease and skin diseases.
It is very important to have a diet rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A,C, E and zinc in order to keep the free radicals under control.
Zinc is essential for the immune system too
So as part of your immune system’s strategy for preventing colds and flu is the essential trace mineral zinc.
How do you become zinc deficient?
- Today, lower levels of zinc are found in the soil which of course affects our food.
- In addition, our diet and lifestyles when they include highly processed, refined foods with a much too high consumption of sugar and carbohydrates all contribute to the decreasing levels of zinc in our diet.
- Even health conscious vegetarians can be at risk of zinc deficiency because the main source of zinc is meat.
- Another cause of deficiency can be increased stress levels.
- Zinc deficiency affects 30 per cent of the world’s population with the elderly having an increased probability for zinc deficiency (caused by a decline of serum or plasma zinc levels with age).
How do you know when you have a zinc deficiency?
Common symptoms to look out for are dandruff or dry skin, poor wound healing, insomnia, diarrhea, hair loss, loss of libido, rashes and reduced fertility. The chronic skin condition of psoriasis is another sign that you could be suffering from a zinc deficiency.
How do you treat a zinc deficiency?
- Change to a whole food, organic diet.
- Rich in zinc are these foodstuffs: crimini mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, oysters, summer squash, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, miso, mustard greens, spinach, pork, chicken, beef, lamb, chickpeas, baked beans, lima beans, split peas, pecans and almonds, green peas, organic eggs, ginger root and cheese.
- Even if you consume a high level of zinc through your diet, only a small percentage actually gets absorbed by your body, especially from non-meat sources. Two very good reasons for taking a zinc supplement are firstly, if you are a vegetarian and secondly, if you suffer from psoriasis.
- Reducing your stress levels should be part of your aim to reduce any zinc deficiency.
Here are three studies on zinc which you might find interesting
Firstly, a recent research study conducted by the USDA found nursing facility residents with normal levels of zinc were about fifty percent less likely to develop pneumonia. Those with normal zinc levels also had less need for new antibiotics, shorter duration of pneumonia when it was contracted, and shorter durations of antibiotic use than those with lower zinc levels. Those with normal zinc blood levels also had fewer mortalities. About 600 elderly residents of 33 nursing facilities were studied in the Boston area. The lead researcher, Dr. Medyani said, “Zinc is already known to strengthen the immune system; however, there needs to be further investigation of zinc and its effect on pneumonia development and prevention in nursing homes. The next step would be a clinical trial.” (Source:ABCnews.com)
Secondly, daily supplements of zinc may reduce measures of anger and depression in young women, according to a study from Japan. “A daily supplement of 7 mg of zinc gluconate was associated with significant decreases in measures of anger-hostility and depression-dejection” report scientists from Daigaku Junior College and Seitoku University in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. On the other hand, multivitamin supplements did not affect the mood state of women who participated in the study.
Thirdly, Ananda Prasad, MD, PhD (a distinguished professor of medicine at Wayne State University) recently published a paper on zinc. In that report, he says: “Those over 55 have lower zinc intake…and the absorption of zinc is decreased. As you age, you lose stomach acid, which is essential for digestion and absorption of minerals.”
If supplements are needed, what should be taken?
Recommended supplements are zinc gluconate or zinc acetate as neither will irritate the stomach. It is suggested that those with a zinc deficiency (particularly the aged) should take 30 to 45 mg daily with 1 to 2 mg of copper but because these nutritional and health issues are complicated to the point of being confusing for someone untrained in medicine and nutrition, if you suspect a zinc deficiency it is probably best to consult with a health professional.