Author: Audrey Marco, Naturopath, Canberra 19th February 2016
Zinc is a trace element essential at every stage of life. It is involved in the production of over 80 hormones and is a necessary component in a number of enzyme systems that regulate metabolic activities throughout the body.
Zinc forms enzymes that enable proteins to become “building blocks” for new cells. (Bartram. T. 1998).Our modern day, westernised life style contributes to lower Zinc level in general , especially diet high in processed food, low in essential fatty acids and high in grain diet, the use of medication, stress and alcohol consumption.
Approximately 47% of the population is at risk of Zinc deficiency (Osiecki.H 2006).
Normal thyroid function is dependent on the presence of many essential trace minerals, one of which is Zinc, known to be involved in many biochemical reactions occurring within the thyroid.
Studies suggest an association between goitre and Zinc deficiency, not a surprise when one considers Zinc is required to activate a certain enzyme to convert thyroxine to T3; Zinc is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones and for stabilization of thyroid functions.
2. Immune Health & Autoimmunity
Zinc is highly important for immunity and influences both innate and acquired immunity. Zinc functions as a co-factor in the body for many immune dependent responses including involvement in thymus hormones induction of T-cells functions and production.
As an antioxidant, Zinc also protects against free radical and studies report that Zinc exhibit anti-viral activity against more than 40 viruses. Zinc is needed for natural killer cell activity, lymphocyte production and activity (T-cells) and for the production of some cytokines which are essential for tumour necrosis factor.
Zinc also restores normal immune function without being an” immune stimulant” which is of value for auto-immune disorders such as Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease. Low zinc levels may may you more susceptible to infectious conditions like thrush and candida.
3. Blood Sugar Balance
Diabetic patients commonly exhibit a disruption in their metabolism of Zinc, evidenced by increased loss of Zinc particularly via the urine. Diabetic subjects are very often found to be deficient in this important mineral.
Zinc has been proposed to mimic insulin by assisting in the signal transduction of insulin while also reducing beta cell insulin secretion; however the benefits of Zinc are not limited to diabetes itself but also relate to diabetic complications such as diabetic retinopathy where it may exert a beneficial effect through its action as an antioxidant.
Zinc is an essential nutrient involved in numerous enzymatic reactions, including that of the brain.
Preliminary evidence suggest that supplementation with Zinc may help to augment antidepressant medications, making them more effective in managing major unipolar depression (Hechtman.L 2011).
Zinc also helps with the absorption of B vitamins which are essential for the nervous system health; Zinc also functions as a modulator for many proteins and enzymes for neurotransmission cell signalling; any disruption to this cell signalling and neurotransmission is likely to affect sleep patterns.
A condition where elevated pyrroles are found in the urine; pyrroles bind to B6 and Zinc before all three are eliminated via the kidneys, rending the B6 and Zinc unavailable for use in their many enzyme reactions.
An estimated 20% of children and adolescents with autism, ADHD and behavioural disorders have elevated level pyrroles in their urine. This error of haemoglobin metabolism causes excessive loss and resulting in deficiency in B6 and Zinc, often with elevated serum levels of copper.
The cause of pyrroluria can be from genetic susceptibility, plus environmental factors such as stress and heavy metal burden (Hetchman.L 2011). Read more about the delicate balance between Zinc and copper here.
Heavy Metals are classed as poisons shown to disrupt a diverse range of enzyme functions, affecting virtually every system of the body.
Zinc support Heavy Metal safe excretion via methylation. Methylation processes play critical roles in detoxification, particularly of environmental toxins including heavy metals, pesticides, detoxification of phenols, DNA and RNA formation.
Zinc is an antagonist for Mercury, aluminium and cadmium in particular. Read more about Heavy Metals affecting your thyroid here.
This essential mineral is also very important for many other health coditions including prostate gland function and the growth of the reproductive organs; Zinc may also help prevent acne by regulating the activity of the oil glands.
It is required for protein synthesis and collagen formation of the skin; a significant amount of Zinc is lost through perspiration and the consumption of hard water can also upset Zinc level.
Compounds called phytates that are found in grains and legumes bind with Zinc so that it cannot be absorbed efficiently (Balch.J.F.1997).
Therefore it is very wise to seek the help of qualified and experienced practitioner who can explain why it is important to separate Iron and Calcium supplement from Zinc for better health outcome.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Adv Dip of Naturopathy, Dip of Herbal Medicine – College of Naturopathic Medicine in London
Audrey grew up in Provence, South of France where she developed her passion for Herbal Medicine from an early age. She is passionate about helping people gaining optimum health and energy to able them to live a fulfilling life. She understands how Endocrine hormonal balancing is a beautifully complex and essential system for providing a healthy state to our bodies. Audrey has since moved to Canberra and completed an accreditation course at CIT in order to comply with Australian regulations and standard. Next, she is planning on studying for the Bachelor in Health and Sciences in Complementary Medicine.
Restoring full health and attaining wellness is an exciting process; Audrey is dedicated to working with customers, supporting and guiding them to archive the best health they possibly can. Audrey has experience both in Pharmacies and Health food store where she has developed a strong understanding of a united system of health care with the management of allopathic and Complementary medicines. Audrey has also previously worked as a Nanny in England for many years where she has gained knowledge on infants and children’s health.
References and Recommend Reading:
Balch, James F . Prescription for Nutritional Healing: a practical A to Z reference to drug –free remedies using vitamins, minerals, herbs & food supplements- 2nd ed. 1997.
Bartram.T. Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine.London,1998.
Hechtman, L. Clinicla Naturopathy. 2011 Elsevier , Australia.
Osiecki,H. The Nutrient Bible, 7th ed.Bioconcept, 2006, Australia.