Why you should care about your zinc levels

Zinc

Photo credits: Top left: Christopher Sessums; top right: Nick Mote; bottom left: Keith McDuffee; bottom right: Kristina D.C. Hoepnner. Used with permission under Creative Commons license.

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., pH Labs founder 

Recently, a close relative told me he did some bloodwork and his zinc levels “came back low.”  Since I knew very little about zinc except that zinc was somehow involved in the immune system, I did some research to figure out whether he had cause for concern. As a health care attorney, research comes naturally to me, but more importantly, as a health care consumer, I believe it is important for me to be well-informed about nutrition and health issues.  So, here is some of the information I found out about zinc.  

What is zinc?

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps keep your body functioning properly.  It has many important functions in the body and can be used to address many health issues, from the common cold to malaria.

Is zinc deficiency common?

Apparently, zinc deficiency is pretty common now, due to losses in soil and food processing. Rain can wash zinc from our soils. And when you cook food, much of the zinc goes into the water. Additionally, when foods are processed, much of the zinc is lost. 

What is zinc good for?

Zinc is good for many bodily functions. It plays a crucial role in helping wounds heal quickly and properly.  If taken before or after surgery, studies show that zinc will help to speed recovery time and reduce post-operation complications.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, inadequate levels of zinc may cause undeveloped sex organs, birth defects and stunted growth in males. 

Zinc also plays an important role in helping the immune system fight off bacteria and in reducing the incidence of colds. It is required for proper taste and smell.

Is zinc especially relevant for men?

Yes.  Zinc is very important for men because prostatic fluids have high concentrations of zinc.  

It has been reported that zinc may be an effective treatment for low testosterone in men. Zinc deficiency reportedly produces sexual health issues like impotence, infertility, and poor sexual development.  There is some support that the prostate enlargement that comes with age is related to low zinc, and that regular zinc supplementation may prevent this problem. 

Who is most likely to be zinc deficient?

Examples of people most likely to be deficient are:

  • Older adults – because with age, zinc absorption is reduced
  • Alcoholics – alcohol flushes zinc from the liver
  • Athletes – zinc is lost in sweat
  • Diabetics – zinc plays vital role in production of insulin
  • Strict vegetarians – zinc in animal foods seems to be better absorbed than in vegetable sources 

Where do you get it?

Foods that contain good sources of zinc are:

  • oysters
  • red meat
  • poultry
  • chia seeds
  • beans
  • almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans
  • tofu
  • broccoli
  • oatmeal
  • spinach
 
 

Most people are able to get their daily recommended amount of zinc from the foods they eat. This is the best way to get your daily zinc because it is more easily absorbed this way. For those that are not able to get enough zinc in this way, there are also zinc supplements. Most multivitamins have zinc added to them as well.

Are you getting enough zinc?

There is a very simple test to see if you have enough zinc in your system. Grab some liquid zinc from your local health store and swish a tablespoon around in your mouth.

If you immediately get a strong unpleasant or metallic taste in your mouth, then you probably have an adequate amount of zinc in your system. However, if the zinc tastes like water or even sweet, you may be deficient. Without enough zinc in your diet, you may experience a decreased sense of taste.

Can I get my zinc levels tested?

At Proactive Health Labs, we offer specialized tests to help you determine if you are getting the nutrition your body needs, including zinc.  If you are found to be deficient, we suggest zinc-rich foods as well as offer the highest quality supplements so you can correct any deficiencies and imbalances in your body.

We don’t want you to take supplements for the sake of taking supplements – find out what your body really needs. 

 

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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