Healthy from A to Zinc: The Miracle Mineral
Zinc is an extraordinary mineral that is vital to the function of your entire body. Let’s travel through the alphabet to learn more about what the Miracle Mineral has to offer, and how to make sure you get enough of it.
Anti-Aging To start off, zinc has an anti-aging effect on your whole body. Having enough zinc in your diet can reduce the likelihood of age-related diseases like macular degeneration and infection, one study showing taking a 45mg zinc supplement daily reduced infection rates by 66%. Additionally, seniors who took zinc supplements found their flu shot more effective. It also boosts collagen reproduction and synthesis, leaving you with less fine lines and younger looking skin.
Baby Development Zinc is vital in pregnancy, as it boosts the growth and development of the baby. It helps with neurological wiring, skin growth and the development of baby’s immune system. Pregnant women should consume an extra 4mg of zinc every day, and an extra 5 while breastfeeding, to make sure the milk is rich in zinc.
Cells There is zinc in every cell of your body! Isn’t that incredible? From skin to hair, vital organs and even fingernails, zinc shows up to help grow, reproduce cells and synthesize vital nutrients.
DNA Synthesis Zinc goes right down to the very core structures of the human body, our DNA. Zinc sits in the nucleus of the cell and stabilizes our DNA and allows it to regenerate and grow new cells to keep our body functioning.
Enzymatic Reactions There are over 300 enzymes that rely on zinc to react and produce processes like digestion, metabolism and the firing of nerves. Essentially, zinc is working 24/7 to keep your body going, like a cog in a ticking clock.
Fortified Foods Whilst zinc occurs naturally in many foods, there are also a lot of foods commonly fortified with zinc to give us a little extra boost. These include many breakfast cereals, flours and protein/snack bars. Look for zinc on the nutrition panel when picking out a healthy snack!
Growth We need zinc to grow! Young and old, our bodies are constantly regenerating thanks to the zinc in our cells supporting the synthesis of cell division.
Hormones Zinc does hugely important work with our hormones. For starters, it binds insulin, which is the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels, and stores the insulin in the pancreas for the body to use as glucose enters the bloodstream. It also is vital for our sex hormones. Without zinc, our sex drive is likely to drop, and in children, puberty may be delayed. Zinc helps regulate testosterone levels, and also stimulates FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which helps sperm production in males and the release of eggs (otherwise known as ovulation) in women. This means without zinc, we wouldn’t be making babies. Fertility specialists recommend a zinc supplement for both parties when trying to get pregnant. Zinc also stimulates prolactin – the breastfeeding hormone and regulates our stress hormone cortisol. Vitally, it also supports thyroid function as without zinc, our body can’t convert T4 to T3, which is the active thyroid hormone.
Immune System Zinc levels have been shown to be lower in those with autoimmune diseases. This is likely because zinc supports the immune cells in our bodies, including those “killer cells” that fight off disease. There’s a reason why cold medicines and throat lozenges are often fortified with zinc – it helps boost our immune system to fight off all sorts of nasty bugs
Just Think Meat! So now you’re probably wondering where you get this all-important mineral. The absolute best sources of zinc are shellfish, red meat and poultry, so lobster, crab, lamb, beef, pork, chicken and turkey. Fish is high in zinc and many essential fatty acids. Eggs and dairy are great too. Vegetarians, head on down to “Q” for more inspiration. On average adult men need about 11mg of zinc a day, and women (who aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding) need 8mg. Signs of zinc deficiency include stomach upset, thin or brittle hair and nails, dry skin, poor wound healing and low immunity. Of course, this is just a guideline, and you should talk to your doctor about your specific needs.
Kind to Your Mind Zinc deficiency can hasten memory loss and behavioral changes in older adults and also children with ADHD. The mineral has a regulatory impact on neurotransmitters and the fatty acids that create neural pathways. When these pathways begin to break down, so does our memory. Zinc can also be used to help treat ADHD, and several studies are underway into how high dose supplements may help regulate behavior. This is because zinc regulates the releasing and storing of various neurotransmitters. Thanks to all of this, adequate levels of zinc in our bodies enables us to think more clearly and quickly, and aids memory, as well as the brain-body connection.
Low Inflammatory Markers Zinc can reduce levels of inflammatory proteins that float around our bodies causing pain, fatigue, digestive problems and more. People who have higher levels of zinc tend to have lower inflammatory markers in their bodies.
Metabolism This incredible mineral is pivotal in the digestion and metabolism of food. Zinc stimulates digestive enzymes and once those enzymes have broken down our food, zinc becomes the carrier that moves important nutrients around the body in the process of metabolism. For example it carries vitamin A to the liver, collagen to the skin and water to cells. Without zinc, much of what we eat would become useless.
Nerve Function A lack of zinc inhibits healthy nerve function, with the potential to cause misfiring nerves or nerve pain. There have been studies where people who suffer from nerve pain take zinc supplements and improve their pain levels significantly.
Oxidative Stress Reduced Oxidative stress happens when we have too many free radicals in our body leading to chronic inflammation. This can then lead to problems like heart and liver disease and some cancers. Zinc relieves this oxidative stress as it helps the antioxidants we ingest fight the free radicals, reducing inflammation around the whole body.
Protein Synthesis and Production The synthesis and production of proteins occurs in the cells, all thanks to zinc! These proteins then help build muscle and bone strength. Protein synthesis is a fundamental biological function that we couldn’t live without, as it is constantly building new cells and replacing old, tired ones.
Quinoa and Chickpeas and Oats, Oh My! Don’t worry vegetarians, I haven’t forgotten you. Whilst meat may be the food with the highest percentage of zinc, you will also find it in leafy greens, quinoa, chickpeas, oats, brown rice, lentils, black beans and other legumes, nuts and seeds, mushrooms and most of your green veggies. So even if meat is off the table, you can still load up on whole grains and legumes to get your daily zinc.
Risk of Infection Lower Your risk of infection is lower when you have enough zinc. As it does so much to support your immune system, zinc stimulates T-cells to fight off infections in your body and on your skin. Making sure you have enough zinc, especially in flu-season or in pandemic times like these, is absolutely vital to help you fight off any incoming infections.
Skin Our skin is your biggest and most precious organ, and zinc does a lot to protect it and keep you looking your best. It improves signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles and even sunspots with collagen synthesis and cell regeneration. Applied in the form of a cream or face wash, it’s a mild astringent that drastically improves the signs of acne like pimples and blackheads, without disrupting natural and healthy sebum production.
Taste and Smell If you suddenly find your senses of taste and smell are weaker than usual, you may be zinc deficient. Yet another amazing thing zinc does is fortify one of the enzymes crucial to taste and smell. You really do need zinc to support every aspect of your health.
UV Rays Zinc doesn’t just have to be ingested. Applied topically it’s anti-aging, anti-acne and most importantly, anti-sunburn! The best organic sunscreens are made from zinc oxide, which spreads smoothly over your skin, creating a shield that deflects harmful UVA and UVB rays. These organic sunscreens are also much better for long-term wear and sensitive skin, as they don’t contain harsh, irritant chemicals. You’re safest from skin cancers and unsightly lines and discolouration if you apply an SPF daily, so lather up!
Vegans and Vegetarians, Watch Out… Vegans and vegetarians may find it a little difficult to get enough zinc through diet alone. As we mentioned above, meat and shellfish are the best sources of zinc, and whilst it’s present in many grains, vegetables and legumes, there isn’t as much and you’d need to eat much higher volumes of the food. That’s why it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor about taking a zinc supplement on its own or as a part of a multi-vitamin tablet. Even for those who don’t restrict their meat, there is still potential for zinc deficiency, particularly if you’re a bit of a picky eater or indulge in alcohol frequently. Definitely see your doctor about what sorts of supplementation you may need.
Wound Healing Zinc is all about that cellular regeneration. And what’s more important in wound healing than that?! Many creams for burns and ulcers contain zinc, as applied topically as well as ingested orally, it really helps wounds heal quickly. Did you know that your skin holds about 5% of the zinc in your whole body? That’s because the zinc is there to repair every minor scratch and scrape, as well as major injuries. Studies have proven that diabetics with foot ulcers had significantly faster wound healing while taking zinc supplements than those who didn’t.
X-traordinary Impact Zinc is seriously phenomenal isn’t it? From hair growth down to healing foot ulcers, zinc plays a part. It sits at the core of every cell in your body, ready to regenerate, stimulate, carry and synthesize. We rely on zinc for memory, digestion, metabolism, healing, fighting off sickness, growing, regulating stress, even developing sperm and eggs to create a baby that, in utero, will rely on a steady supply of zinc for the growth of their brain and body.
Your Whole Body Is Influenced By…
Zinc! The Miracle Mineral.
So it’s time for you to make sure you’re eating foods rich in zinc, and talk to your doctor about a supplement. This miracle mineral is one of the building blocks of human life, of your life. It may just be a little lowly rock that we find in the dirt, like all minerals, but it occurs naturally in almost every living thing. Every human, plant and animal. The planet would not be what it is today without zinc. So whether you’re using it for sun protection, for acne, or just living knowing that in every second of the day, zinc is enacting multiple vital processes in your body, remember to embrace that Miracle Mineral.