Zinc may not be one of the mighty micronutrients most people know a lot about. Perhaps you have seen or taken those zinc-containing cold lozenge at the drugstore in an attempt to boost your immune system? Some micronutrients can make a huge impact on our immune health, and we may go out of our way to eat or supplement them. Many of us have turned to immune boosting vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, vitamin C, or zinc to help us stay strong against illness. But zinc isn’t just an immune booster- becoming sufficient in zinc can pay big dividends over time!
Zinc supports many current global health concerns, from digestion, detoxification, anxiety and depression, to skin health, fertility, and more. However, according to the USDA 30% of Americans over the age of 2 do not get the minimum amount of zinc required to maintain basic health from our diets, and many of us need more zinc to bolster our antioxidant defenses, repair and heal tissues, or support a healthy mind. So sit back, relax, and get ready to think zinc!
Zinc Deficiency Increases Disease Risk
Essential for all forms of life, zinc was first discovered in human enzymes as part of carbonic anhydrase in 1939. By the 1980s, more and more zinc dependent enzymes had been discovered, and researchers looked with curiosity at the “zinc finger” proteins that are so important for DNA replication. Today, we know that zinc is an essential trace mineral used in over 300 important enzymes- and that our genome has genetic instructions to make over 3000 zinc-containing proteins!
Clinical symptoms of zinc deficiency have been shown to be present in the absence of abnormal laboratory values for zinc, most likely because zinc is tightly regulated in the blood. Because adequate zinc levels are important for basic metabolism, growth, development, cell regulation, and more, zinc deficiency and insufficiency are associated with several problems, including:
Depressed Immune Function
Increased Risk of Common Cold
Slow Wound Healing
Age Related Macular Degeneration
Delayed Sexual Maturation
Depression and Mental Lethargy
Impaired Taste and/or Smell
Acne / Inflamed Skin / Eczema
Anxiety / Depression
Are you at High Risk for Zinc Deficiency?
Most people deficient in zinc simply do not consume enough. Beyond inadequate intake, people at the greatest risk of zinc deficiency include:
People consuming a “Standard American Diet” (low in fiber, high in toxins and empty carbs)
People consuming a high carbohydrate diet or gluten-free diet,
People consuming a vegan diet, or vegetarian diet
People with low protein intakes
People with age related macular degeneration
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
People with malabsorption issues, including inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease
Zinc Does More Than You Think
Zinc is an important trace mineral that you must consume in order to survive and has several important functions:
Eases Labor and Delivery. It has been estimated that more than 80% of pregnant women worldwide have inadequate zinc intakes. Low zinc intake and low zinc levels are associated with premature delivery, low birth weight challenges, and problems with labor and delivery.
Stimulates Growth and Development. Zinc deficiency in animals and humans is associated not only with challenges during gestation and delivery, but also with growing up well afterwards. Zinc is not only involved in DNA replication and therefore the manufacture of every new cell, but also is associated with increased levels of growth hormone and IGF-1, which drive growth.
Boosts Basic Immunity. Zinc helps regulate many immune system activities, such as helping boost production of white blood cells and both your innate and coordinated immune responses. Even mild to moderate zinc deficiency can tank many of your best soldiers: macrophages, neutrophils, lymphocytes, natural killer cells, and the complement system cells that support.....
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