What Is The Function Of Zinc In The Human Body – Zinc deficiency is a common problem around the world and contributes to many unwanted health problems. Zinc is a fundamental mineral that is essential for the growth patterns of humans and animals and plays an essential role in the development of hormones and immune molecules. Zinc is one of the best mineral supplements to strengthen and balance a tired and overstimulated immune system. This article goes into detail about 15 symptoms of zinc deficiency and the best food sources.
Experts predict that nearly 2 billion people (about 25% of the world’s population) are zinc deficient (1). This is believed to be due to insufficient consumption in the individual’s diet. From a functional health perspective, there is much more zinc deficiency in our society due to poor biochemical pathways.
- 1 What Is The Function Of Zinc In The Human Body
- 2 Bulksupplements Zinc Citrate Powder
- 3 Zinc 50 Mg 100 Caplets, Non Gmo, Supports Immune System Function 1 12 Pack 8/24
- 4 Walgreens Zinc 50 Mg Softgels
What Is The Function Of Zinc In The Human Body
If we have poor blood sugar signaling due to a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates, we are unable to adequately absorb zinc. People with leaky gut syndrome often develop a zinc deficiency due to poor absorption.
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Consuming high amounts of phytic acids in grains and legumes can negatively affect zinc levels. The regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also reduces zinc levels in the body. Here are the most common symptoms associated with a zinc deficiency.
Zinc is critical for balancing the immune system and controlling the Th-1 and Th-2 systems. Zinc enhances the action of the human cytokine interferon-alpha, a protein that inhibits viral replication. This reduces immunological stress and improves immune coordination (2).
Zinc is also a very specific component of specific enzymes in the body, including superoxide dismutase enzymes (SODs). SOD is a potent intracellular antioxidant that protects cellular genomics and prevents viral infections and the accumulation of toxic waste in the cellular matrix.
When the immune system recognizes a pathogen, it sets in motion a series of molecules to create a process that activates the innate immune response. This process involves the Nuclear Factor – kappa Beta (NF-kB) pathway. Healthy immunity depends on sensitive NF-kB activity, but must reduce NF-kB overstimulation or we risk chronic inflammation (3).
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Zinc plays an important role by binding to a protein within the NF-kB pathway that shuts down its activity (4). This is a programmed shutdown of the NF-kB pathway that reduces the effects of too much inflammatory activity in the cells. Without enough zinc, the NF-kB pathway becomes overstimulated, causing chronic inflammatory conditions that have been linked to degenerative disease processes (5).
Pyroluria, also called Malvaria, is a unique metabolic condition that is very rarely recognized in both the medical and natural health communities. It is considered by many in the functional medicine community to be the most common unknown condition.
There are several waste products produced when the body produces hemoglobin for the red blood cells. These waste products are called cryptopyrroles, technically called hydroxyhemoppyrrolin-2-one (HPL), and are typically excreted from our bodies. Individuals with pyroluria are unable to effectively remove the HPL and it accumulates in the system (6, 7).
The HPL binds strongly to zinc, biotin and vitamin B6, which are crucial nutrients for cellular metabolism. Over time, the body becomes severely deficient in these essential nutrients and symptoms develop. These individuals require high doses of these important nutrients and typically require 60-100 mg of zinc supplementation daily.
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Zinc’s modulating effect on NF-kB makes it a formidable player in the prevention of cancer cell growth patterns. It has been shown to reduce tumor cell angiogenesis and the induction of inflammatory cytokines. It also increases apoptosis (programmed cell death) in abnormal cell lines, which reduces the chance of cancer growth (8).
Research shows that zinc is especially important for prostate and breast cancer. A 2012 study showed that individuals with the BRCA1 gene (strongly associated with the development of breast cancer) with the highest zinc levels had the lowest risk of developing cancer. The study also showed that those with the lowest zinc levels had a significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer (9).
In other research, Dr. David Watts reviewed hair trace mineral reports from thousands of women and found that a pattern of elevated boron, copper and calcium levels with lower zinc levels occurred in women with breast cancer. Watts understands that boron and copper appear to make the body more sensitive to the stimulating effects of estrogen, and less sensitive to the calming effects of progesterone.
Zinc is the mineral that helps produce and use progesterone, so this pattern of mineralization makes women less sensitive to progesterone and more sensitive to estrogen. Increasing zinc levels and decreasing boron, copper and calcium levels can bring these women into mineral balance and help create hormonal balance.
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The most important gene that protects men against prostate cancer and women against breast cancer is the p53 gene. It is thought to be the guardian of the human genome. When this gene becomes mutated, it causes the development of cancer. The gene requires zinc, and zinc deficiencies appear to cause mutated versions of the p53 gene (10). This dramatically increases the risk of developing breast and prostate cancer cells.
Zinc and copper compete with each other as antagonists to properly regulate the physiological pathways in your body. The proper balance between the two trace minerals is critical to maintaining health.
Unlike zinc, copper can easily accumulate in the body in toxic concentrations. To maintain adequate zinc levels, a higher daily dose of zinc is required than that of copper. Zinc is only stored in the blood and bones for a short time and is quickly excreted through our urine and feces. (11)
Ideally, nutritional biochemist Dr. Paul Eck suggests that the correct intake of copper and zinc should be a ratio of 1:8 (12). When properly concentrated in the right balance, zinc acts like its bigger brother, keeping copper in food and from being absorbed into the body (13). Fortunately, the foods that are high in zinc, such as meat, seafood, nuts and pumpkin seeds, are also very high in copper, so you’ll get both of these together in your diet.
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We test plasma zinc and serum copper levels and the ideal ratio is about 1-1.2, which means you should have equal or slightly higher levels of plasma zinc than serum copper.
The best food sources of zinc are oysters, shellfish, meat, eggs, nuts and seeds. Personally, I don’t recommend relying solely on nuts and seeds as they also contain phytic acids that bind to zinc and reduce the absorption of zinc through the digestive system. Seafood, grass-fed beef and organ meats, and pasture-raised eggs are much better sources.
Germinating seeds helps remove phytic acids and lectins and makes zinc and other minerals more bioavailable and easier to absorb. Look for sprouted pumpkin, sunflower, hemp and chia seeds for good sources of zinc.
The recommended daily allowance of zinc for most adults is between eight and eleven milligrams. However, for functional health, most progressive nutritionists and physicians recommend between 30 and 40 mg/day. Zinc can be a problem if you take more than 100 mg/day. The preferred form of zinc is an amino acid chelate such as glycinate chelate.
Zinc And Calcium Ions ‘crosstalk’ To Allow Proper Egg Fertilization, Study Finds
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Sources for this article include: 1. Zinc Deficiency Link Here 2. Ohio State University. “Zinc helps against infections by putting on the brakes on the immune response.” Science daily. 3. Gerondakis S, Fulford TS, Messina NL, Grumont RJ. NF-κB control of T cell development. Nat Immunol. Jan. 2014;15(1):15-25. PMID: 24352326 4. Prasad AS, Beck FW, Snell DC, Kucuk O. Zinc in cancer prevention. Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(6):879-87. PMID: 20155630 5. Heyninck K, De Valck D, Vanden Berghe W, Van Criekinge W, Contreras R, Fiers W, Haegeman G, Beyaert R. The zinc finger protein A20 inhibits TNF-induced NF-kappaB-dependent gene expression by interfering with a RIP or TRAF2-mediated transactivation signal and binds directly to a novel NF-kappaB inhibitory protein ABIN. J-celbiol. June 28, 1999; 145(7): 1471-82. PMID: 10385526 6. Walker JL. Neurological and behavioral toxicity of kryptopyrrol in the rat. Pharmacol Biochem Behavior. 1975 March-April; 3(2):243-50. PMID: 1096175 7. Krischer K, Pfeiffer CC. Biochemical relationship between cryptopyrrole (mauve factor and trans-3-methyl-2-hexenoic acid (schizophrenia odor). Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol. 1973 Jan;5(1):9-15. PMID: 4686114 8. Sunderman FW Jr. The influence of zinc on apoptosis. Ann Clin Lab Sci. 1995 Mar-Apr;25(2):134-42. PMID: 7785963 9. Kaczmarek K, Jakubowska A, Sukiennicki G, et al. Risk of zinc and breast cancer. Hereditary Cancer in clinical practice. 2012;10(suppl 4):A6. 10. Loh, S. The missing zinc: p53 misfolding and cancer. Metallomics, 2010, 2, 442-449
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