Zinc is a Surprisingly Supportive Nutrient
Zinc is an essential trace element but has recently been acknowledged for its important role in the prevention of many illnesses. It is considered a trace element because we don’t need a lot of it for optimal health. Yet, Zinc deficiencies have been shown to lead to auto-immune diseases as well as age related degenerative disease. Zinc, in fact, is an important little essential trace element that plays a role in growth and development, immune response, neurological function and reproduction. Furthermore, there are almost 100 enzymes that require zinc for their ability to catalyze vital chemical reactions in the body. Yes, it is a powerful nutrient necessary to our health and well-being.
Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency
- Altered taste sense with craving for salty and sweet foods.
- Low Libido
- Impaired immune function
- Poor memory
- Poor wound healing
- Attention deficit symptoms.
Health Benefits of Zinc
Studies on the health benefits of zinc show that this powerful nutrient has a significant therapeutic impact on bodily functions. There are some specific health benefits, they are as follows:
- Powerful cancer fighting antioxidant: Zinc has specifically been shown to prevent colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer and leukemia. Conversely, evidence shows that deficiency causes these cancers as well.
- Supports fertility: Zinc deficiency can cause low testosterone levels and infertility in men. In women, zinc deficiency can lead to an immature egg and decreased fertility as well.
- Prevents Alzheimer’s: Though much research continues into causes of Alzheimer’s there are some studies that give credibility to zinc deficiency being a factor in the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Prevents depression: Zinc deficiency has been found to play a role in depression. Studies show that people who suffer from depression are often zinc deficient. The more deficient, it seems, the deeper the depression. Supplementation is not going to cure everyone’s depression. However, if you are depressed have your levels checked. There are other nutritional imbalances, such as vitamin C, that can lead to depression. Here is a good article that discusses some of these issues.
- Protects against the effects of heart disease: Zinc is important in maintaining healthy heart cells as well as the lining of the blood vessels. This lining is called the endothelium and it weakens with zinc deficiency leading to increased build up of cholesterol and increased inflammation. Cholesterol and inflammation are key components in heart disease.
- Prevents diabetes: Recent studies show that there is a link between low zinc levels and insulin resistance.
- Maintains strong vision: Zinc is found in high concentrations in the eye. Deficiency has a direct effect on vision and contributes to macular degeneration. Severe cases of deficiency can also lead to changes in the retina.
Food Sources of Zinc
- Low fat beef and lamb
- Pumpkin and watermelon seeds
- Dark Chocolate
- Wheat Germ
- Garbanzo Beans
Zinc Level Test
There is an easy test that is an indicator of your zinc levels. Go to your health food store and buy some zinc sulfate. Take the prescribed dosage on the bottle and hold it in your mouth. If it tastes like water you most likely have a deficiency. If the liquid has a mild metal flavor you probably have a mild deficiency. If the flavor of the liquid is a heavy metal and is very distasteful then your level is likely normal. Or, you can go to your doctor and have a level drawn, which we recommend.
Zinc is a powerful trace element that is necessary for good health. If you have some of the symptoms of deficiency it is a good idea to get tested and add a supplement as needed per your doctor’s orders. Know your numbers so you can make sure you are getting adequate zinc for optimal health.