Zinc is required for hundreds of enzymes that control functions as diverse as vision, hearing, health of the skin, hair, nails, connective tissue, sexual function, digestion, immune response, and more. Zinc is also involved in protein synthesis, a vital function, where it is required for several key enzymes in RNA and DNA synthesis such as RNA transferase. |
A WORLDWIDE ZINC DEFICIENCY
There are very few good sources of bioavailable zinc today. Most of the world’s soils are low in zinc. This is a serious problem around the world as zinc is rarely replaced enough on today’s soils. Hybrid crops contain much less zinc. Modern hybrid crops produce more food per acre, so each stalk of wheat or corn or vegetables has much less zinc than in earlier times when hybrids were not used.
Food processing often removes zinc.
Zinc and other trace elements are removed when wheat, rice, corn, sugar and even salt are refined.
Salt. Natural sea salt provides a little zinc. However, the zinc and other trace minerals are removed form refined “table salt”. This is one reason table salt is a very poor quality food.
Frozen food. Some foods, especially frozen vegetables and perhaps meats, are sprayed with EDTA to retain their color. This chemical removes some zinc and other minerals from the food, making it even more zinc deficient. The spraying is done to cause the food to retain its color. Most babies are born low in zinc. Mom’s bodies are low in zinc today so the babies do not obtain enough zinc in utero. Vegetarian diets are much lower in zinc. The main reason is that the only good food sources of zinc are meats, especially red meats. Stress depletes zinc very quickly, within seconds, in fact. This is part of the body’s fight-or-flight response to stress. For all the reasons above, zinc deficiency is a major problem throughout the world.
SOURCES OF ZINC
Food sources. The main food sources of zinc are meat and eggs. It is difficult for vegetarians to obtain enough zinc from food! The best food sources of zinc are red meats such as hamburger meat. Other zinc-rich foods are chicken, turkey, eggs and some fish. The reason zinc is found more in animal products is that this mineral helps develop the etheric energy field, which is more developed in animals than in plants.
Vegetarian sources. In general, vegetables, beans, grains and fruits are not good sources of zinc. Among the best vegetarian sources are pumpkin seeds. Sea vegetables such as kelp also contain some zinc. Fruit has very little zinc today. It is one reason not to eat it. Hair tests show that vegetarians become very deficient in zinc. Vegetarian foods contain less zinc and the zinc compounds found in vegetarian sources are more difficult to utilize. This is a major reason for eating meat. Nutritional supplements. A critical aspect of zinc supplementation is that the amount needed can be determined, by the sodium/potassium ratio on a properly performed hair mineral test. Other methods of calculating zinc are not as good. One can easily take too much zinc and unbalance the body.
SYMPTOMS OF ZINC DEFICIENCY
Skin. These include stretch marks on the skin, white spots on the fingernails, and varicose veins. Most cases of acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, boils, vitiligo, and other skin infections often involve zinc deficiencies. Young women experience more acne and other skin problems at certain times of the month because their period regulates zinc and copper levels. When copper is higher than zinc, acne develops in many cases and is a symptom of a need for zinc and other minerals, as well.
Yeast conditions. Zinc is critical for the immune response, and zinc opposes or antagonizes too much copper in the body. For these reasons, a low tissue zinc level is associated with development of fungus and yeast conditions anywhere in the body. Menstrual and Female Reproductive Difficulties. Most menstrual irregularities such as premenstrual tension, estrogen dominance and others are related to zinc imbalance. Zinc has a moderating effect on these health conditions that is sometimes remarkable. Other reproductive conditions involving zinc include cessation of the period in younger women, infertility, irritability and cramping associated with menstruation. Birth Defects, Growth And Development Of The Fetus. Zinc is critical for growth and development, both in the womb and after birth. and deficiency is strongly associated with birth defects of many kinds.
Zinc deficiency is one of the main causes of a doubling or more of the birth defect rate in most Western nations, compared to 100 years ago. Deficiency is almost always a factor in developmental delays, learning disorders, autism, and other developmental problems. Short stature, delayed testicular development, undescended testicles, and other growth problems often have zinc as a part or the entirety of the cause.
Male Reproductive System. The prostate gland accumulates zinc more than any other tissue of the body. Seminal fluid or sperm contains significant quantities of zinc. Most male reproductive and prostate problems have zinc deficiency as part or as all of the cause. These conditions may include prostatitis, enlarged prostate, prostate cancer and other metabolic conditions related to male infertility. They also include erectile dysfunction and some male hormone imbalances such as low testosterone and perhaps other hormone-related conditions in men.
Vision. Zinc deficiency is involved in most vision problems. Macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and night blindness, iritis and other infections are among them. The retina of the eye is one of the richest tissues in zinc in the human body and one of the tissues most dependent on zinc, along with the male prostate gland and the intestines.
The Brain. Zinc is thought to be a calming neurotransmitter in its own right. Symptoms of zinc problems include hyperactivity, ADD and ADHD, anxiety, irritability, nervousness, emotional instability, mood swings, bipolar disorder and many other mental and emotional symptoms. Conditions such as epilepsy, seizures, schizophrenia and other severe emotional disturbances often have zinc deficiency as a part of their cause. Zinc is considered a “sedative mineral” due to its effect on the central nervous system. It is also required for higher mental functioning and for mental development of the neo-cortex or new brain. Zinc is therefore an essential mineral in nutritional balancing science for mental and spiritual development.
The Immune Response. It makes more sense to call it the ‘immune response’ instead of ‘immune system’ because all body systems are involved with immunity. Zinc is critical for this area of functioning, both in humans and in animals. It is helpful to prevent all infections and to treat skin infections and others. Zinc is often given for colds, flu and many acute infections as it is generally helpful for these problems. It works closely with copper in the immune response.
Digestive system. Zinc is required for all digestive enzyme production. It is also required to rebuild the fast-growing intestinal tissue, and for the production of bile, and liver and pancreatic secretions. Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, colitis, and many other digestive problems often have to do with low zinc. Cardiovascular system. Zinc is required to give flexibility to the arteries and veins. Common deficiency symptoms include hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, aneurysms, strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.
Surgery and wound healing. Taking zinc before surgery can be most helpful to prevent complications such as infections, and perhaps even adhesions. It is also required for wound healing, so it may help speed healing and prevent scarring, as well. Zinc is essential for all connective tissue. Symptoms of imbalance or deficiency include problems with tendons and ligaments such as tendonitis, bursitis and, in particular, inflammatory symptoms. Zinc is a highly anti-inflammatory mineral needed to balance copper and other more pro-inflammatory substances in the body.
IDENTIFYING ZINC DEFICIENCY
Blood. Serum blood tests are not great, in general, as zinc does not accumulate in the blood serum. A few holistic doctors use white blood cell zinc levels to assess total body zinc. This provides some information but not too reliable. Urine and feces. These methods of assessing zinc are not considered reliable because they depend too much on the last day’s meals, for example, and other factors such as absorption of dietary zinc. All Most All Bodies Are Low In Zinc. Therefore, the question becomes how much supplemental zinc is needed, rather than whether a person is deficient or not.
HAIR MINERAL ANALYSIS AND ZINC
The level of zinc in a human or animal hair sample depends upon many factors. It is an important mineral to measure in the hair. However, it does not necessarily reflect the total body load of zinc. Also, our Hair Testing data shows that the hair zinc level cannot be used to determine the amount of supplemental zinc a person requires. Dr. Paul Eck (Analytical Research Labs) found that the sodium/potassium ratio on a properly performed hair mineral analysis is the best way to assess the need for zinc. He also recommended extra zinc in some instances. The ideal hair zinc level. Remember that even if the hair zinc level is normal, everyone still needs a zinc supplement. At times, a low hair zinc is caused by the body attempting to defend or compensate for a low sodium level or a low sodium/potassium ratio. Elevated Hair Zinc.
A hair zinc level greater than about 16 mg% can be due, to the presence of toxic metals, usually copper. The body may use zinc in some way to protect the body from the ravages of the other toxic metal. Zinc toxicity is rare, and could occur due to occupational or some other exposure. This only occurs in zinc miners and others who are exposed to large amounts of zinc ore and zinc dust. There is simply not excessive zinc in the soil, the food, the air, water and other common places that overload would occur easily.
RELATIONSHIPS TO OTHER NUTRIENTS
Calcium, magnesium and zinc — the sedative minerals. Zinc, along with calcium and magnesium, are called sedatives because all three help inhibit excessive sympathetic nervous system activity. They all inhibit excessive brain activity. Zinc, in fact, is considered by some authorities to be a calming neurotransmitter. Zinc tends to lower hair sodium levels. This is part of the complex mineral system of the body in which every mineral affects the level of other minerals in unique ways. This does not tend to affect serum levels, as these are regulated differently than the tissue levels of most minerals. Zinc may raise or lower the hair calcium depending on the situation. In slow oxidizers, it powerfully helps lower calcium by helping to restore adrenal activity. Excessive zinc, however, may raise hair calcium by lowering sodium excessively. In fast oxidizers, zinc has a parasympathetic effect that can help raise a low tissue calcium and balance elevated tissue sodium and potassium levels. Thus, overall, zinc tends to balance hair tissue calcium levels, just as it often balances potassium levels as well.
Zinc raises potassium in a slow oxidizer and tends to lower it in fast oxidizers. When the hair potassium level is low, taking zinc is far more effective in helping to raise it than taking potassium. In fast oxidizers, zinc helps to slow the oxidation rate. Therefore, it tends to reduce the hair sodium and potassium levels in a fast oxidizer. In this regard, zinc functions as an adaptogen element, which means that it tends to balance both a high or a low calcium level.
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