Episode 27: Think Zinc!

If Zinc were a person applying for a job in medicine, the HR department would take one look at its resume and promptly reject it, saying “overqualified”. However, if truth be told, there is no such thing as “overqualified”, there is merely “underappreciated”. That is the story of Zinc’s life. Zinc is essential to visual function, hearing, taste sensation, spermatogenesis, sexual development, immune function and wound healing. It is also involved in DNA and protein synthesis, is essential for growth, helps stabilize cell membranes and has antiviral effects against both rhinovirus (colds) and herpes simplex.

Signs of zinc deficiency include impaired taste sensation, anorexia, depression, ADD, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, dermatitis and white spots on the fingernails. Low zinc levels are common in people with liver cirrhosis, malabsorption, Schizophrenia, the elderly and those with alcoholism and renal disease.

Zinc also helps with the absorption of Vitamin A and essential fatty acids. However, vitamin B6, proton pump inhibiting drugs, aspirin, high blood pressure medications and some antibiotics will negatively affect zinc absorption (which means you’ll need more zinc). Food sources of zinc include seafood, meats, wheat germ, egg yolks, nuts and seeds.

That brings us to the intervention. There are several forms of zinc that are commercially available including picolinate, citrate, aspartate and sulfate. The sulfate form is the least desirable due to the possibility of nausea that it can cause. However, if taken after food, that will rarely be a problem. The other thing to remember is that zinc and copper work together in a 10:1 ratio in favor of zinc. Taking one without the other will cause an imbalance, which means a combined supplement (with copper) would be best. Typical doses would be 15mg zinc/2mg copper per day for a 70kg adult for supplemental purposes.


Tune in next week when we’ll talk about Gout.


Be Well and Be Zen


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