Well, it's extremely important for immune system. It is vital for the optimal growth and function neutrophils, NK cells, macrophages, cytokine production & wound healing. Zinc is used by over one hundred enzymes that make protein, DNA, and new cells. So yeah, it's pretty important. Especially when the flu season approaches.
How do you know you're low on zinc? The first thing to go is a sense of smell. Don't panic, it's not necessarily the-virus-that-shan't-be named! It's so gradual, most people don't even notice. Next to go is a sense of taste. Some people will never have a fashion sense no matter how much zinc they have, but this is a different sense of taste. After that, wounds don't heal, hair gets brittle, low mood and on it goes.
Another way to find out if your zinc is low is to try a zinc taste test. Some chemists or health shops provide these for a gold coin. At Herb Nerd NZ we provide this at no cost. It's purified water with zinc. You hold it in your mouth for up to ten seconds. What you taste will determine your zinc levels. It's kind of fun!
Why are zinc levels low? This gorgeous mineral is used by almost every enzymatic reaction. When stress occurs--and has anyone been stressed over the last couple of years--we use more zinc. It is used to digest sugar, detox alcohol and drugs, control the stress response and helps to lower cortisol. It's important for GABA production and insulin regulation. Dietary choices can affect levels. Alcohol, sugar consumption, or a lack of zinc containing foods can, too. Remember, NZ soil is depleted of our necessary trace minerals. Perhaps you have the joy of living with IBS or Crohn's (yes, sarcasm and apologies!) Gut inflammation or a food intolerance can create problems. Malabsorption becomes an issue.
What to do if your levels are low? Supplement. Dietary changes. Heal the gut. Reduce stress. Oh boy, heaps of fun!
Diet: Foods such as shellfish, red meat, some dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains are good sources. Eliminate sugar. Refined sugar. All the fun stuff. Eliminate alcohol. It just uses precious minerals to detox from it. Gut: Healing the gut involves removing food intolerances, working with existing conditions, and an entire protocol which will have to be a future blog. It is also where where your health care professional can help.
Supplement: Therapeutic doses of zinc can help with your levels. It can take up to six weeks to remineralise. Men need more zinc than women as it is used for sperm production. And, as we know, this never stops! Zinc bisglycinate or forms bound to amino acids provides absorption through protein channels enhancing absorption. Zinc picolinate. Zinc citrate. Sulphate (sulfate) forms can cause stomach upset so is best taken with food. Heavens. It can be a bit of a nightmare. The Nerd uses all those forms with good success. Stress: Even mentioning decreasing this creates more. Deep breath in. And out. This is for another time.
Peace & Love. 🌼