What is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential trace mineral. Next to iron, zinc is the most common trace mineral in the body and is found in every cell. Zinc is found in many foods – but most commonly sea food (especially high in oysters), nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds) and dark green leafy vegetables.
What can it be used for?
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• Required for to help make enzymes and adequate levels of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid). Those with digestive issues may benefit therefore.
• Important for male health – particularly a healthy prostate. It is also required for sperm production, sperm formation and motility (how sperm moves). Therefore it is often found as part of male fertility supplements.
• It is required to help the body make the sex hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
• Zinc may be helpful for skin conditions, particularly acne. Not only does it help to repair skin but acts to balance the amount of natural oil, (sebum) produced in the skin. Some research has indicated that acne formation results in part from a lack of zinc in the diet.
• It is important for supporting the brain and mood. Zinc supplementation has been shown to improve mood (by supporting neurotransmitter activity). It may benefit those with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues.
• Of all the minerals, zinc is the most important for healing and repair in the body (inside and out) e.g wounds, scars and so on.
• It is required to absorb iron
• Zinc is very important for the immune system. Low zinc levels can also mean the number of T cells (a type of immune cell) are reduced, thymic hormone levels are lower and white blood cell count is reduced.
• Required for the formation of bones and done density
• Teenagers may require extra zinc to support growth and hormones as they develop an adult body and brain.
• Zinc is important for detoxification processes.
• Required for foetal (baby) development because of its role in cell division. Women should use fertility multi vitamins and pregnancy multi vitamins which include zinc.
What are the signs of deficiency? These may include:
• Loss of taste or smell
• Poor wound healing
• Low stomach acid
• Blood sugar imbalances causing dips and peaks in energy
• Menstrual issues / PMT
• Dry skin / dandruff / acne / other skin conditions
• Mind and mood issues
• Poor immunity
People who have malabsorption syndromes, such as Crohn's disease or coeliac disease, may also be deficient in zinc.
Those with eating disorders may have low zinc and this may contribute to the nature of the disorder. However it is difficult to know whether the lack of zinc is a cause or result of the disorder (through lack of food intake).
How can I take Zinc?
Zinc levels do generally build up if a product is well absorbed. Therefore we recommend taking a zinc supplement for up to 3 months (unless directed otherwise by a practitioner) and then having a break. This is where zinc differs to magnesium, which should be taken daily as it is used up much more quickly by the body and needs consistently ‘topping up’.
Zinc supplements usually vary between 15mg and 50mg per dose. Multivitamin and mineral formulas may contain lower levels of zinc.
Zinc is available in liquid and liquid drops, powder, tablets and capsules. It can be found in many forms e.g citrate, ‘food state’ and so on. Some are more specific to a particular health situation so ask our nutritional team if you need some help with your choices.
Zinc is thought to be better absorbed in the evening and we recommend taking it in combination with vitamin B6 or taking a separate B6 supplement, as B6 facilitates the absorption of zinc.
An important relationship exists between zinc and copper. Too much of one causes a deficiency in the other. Longer term use of zinc should be accompanied by copper. Many zinc products contain a small amount of copper and multivitamins and mineral supplements also usually contain copper.