ZINC - The Essential Trace Mineral. Are You Getting Enough?

If zinc wasn’t on your radar before, then it likely is now because of the significant immune-supportive benefits that have been in the news a lot lately. The popularity of Zinc has grown exponentially in recent months.

Zinc is in every cell in our bodies and is necessary as a cofactor in more than 200 enzymatic reactions.* Of course we hear about the Zinc’s immune supporting benefits but did you know that it is involved in over 200 enzymatic reactions in the body? We will explore how to best supplement with zinc and the other benefits you may not have known about. 

What is Zinc?

Zinc is an essential trace mineral. Essential trace minerals are unable to be made in the body and are unable to be stored in the body, which ultimately means that you must obtain zinc from your diet or through supplementation. Zinc’s role in the body is pretty miraculous. It’s involved in gene expression, protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, wound healing, growth and development, immune function, and over 200 enzymatic reactions.* The more you understand about this trace element, the more empowered you will be to ensure you are getting enough zinc in your diet. 

Types of Zinc

Here are the common types of zinc and their uses:

  • Zn sulfate (~ 22% elemental) 
  • Zn acetate for common cold, but questionable studies
  • Zn oxide is topical -- the white stuff on lifeguard noses
  • Zn picolinate comes from tryptophan and address outright zn deficit, works fast
  • Zn citrate (~ 34% elemental) 
  • Zn gluconate (~ 13% elemental) are well-absorbed--long shelf life 
  • Zn orotate claimed to be best absorbed, but questionable research

Zinc Benefits

Supports Healthy Immune Function

Zinc is essential for the function of the immune system, and there are a number of different ways that zinc supports the immune system.* Zinc activates enzymes that break down proteins in viruses and bacteria and it also increases the activation of cells responsible for fighting infection.*

Zinc ions are involved in regulating intracellular signalling pathways in innate and adaptive immune cells.* Zinc is critical for the development and functioning of natural killer cells, neutraphils, machrophages, T cells, B cells, phagocytosis, intracellular killing, and cytokine production.*   

Promotes Bodily Repair

Zinc plays a role in regulating our body’s wound healing process.* Wound healing is a physiological response to injury that is essential across all tissue systems. Wound repair requires a series of tightly coordinated steps including coagulation, inflammation, angiogenesis, new tissue formation, and extracellular matrix remodelling. Zinc is needed for cell membrane repair, cell proliferation, and grown and immune system function.* 

Supports a Healthy Inflammation Response 

Optimal cellular levels of zinc have been shown to significantly reduce inflammatory cytokines 

and oxidative stress markers and plays a significant role as an antioxidant in the body.* If the body is in a zinc deficient state, there will be an increase of oxidants present, leading to DNA damage. Zinc is also a cofactor for RNA and DNA polymerases, which aid in repair mechanisms.* 

Zinc and COVID-19

Though COVID is currently in the spotlight, earlier viral diseases have provided a lot of detail about how important zinc is to our health. There is little doubt that keeping specific nutrients at optimum values can help your overall health. The CDC says 9 out of 10 adults don’t eat enough nutrient rich foods to support a healthy immune system, like vitamin C or zinc. The European Food Safety Authority deems a handful of vitamins and minerals essential to maintaining a workable immune system—vitamins D, A, C, folate, B6 and B12, and the minerals zinc, iron, copper and selenium. 

Zinc Deficiency

Though rare, zinc deficiency depresses immune function. Even a mild degree of deficit can impair macrophage, neutrophil and natural killer cell activity. Zinc deficiency is far more widespread than zinc toxicity, zinc being relatively harmless. However, indiscriminate use and self-medication without proper guidance may cause inhibition of copper absorption.  

Zinc & Copper 

One consideration when supplementing zinc involves the interaction between zinc and copper, another essential mineral. The body uses copper in energy production and to support bone, skin, neurological, and cardiovascular health.* Several research studies have investigated the relationship between zinc intake and its association with a decrease in copper status. Although copper deficiency is rare, it can result from high levels of zinc intake because of a decreased ability to absorb and use copper from the diet. If you are concerned about your copper levels, our Liquid Copper is an easy way to get added copper - but also check out at home heavy metals testing. 

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

Zinc is essential for proper growth, proper immune functioning, gut integrity, and sexual development. A deficiency in this mineral can lead to a wide variety of physical ailments. 

Zinc deficiency is characterized by:

  • Growth retardation
  • Poor immune function
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Impotence
  • Decreased sense of smell and taste
  • Lack of alertness
  • Poor wound healing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Age-related macular degeneration 

Zinc Sources - How to Increase Zinc in the Body

Food High in Zinc

Zinc is an essential nutrient found in a variety of foods. It is involved in several aspects of cellular metabolism and is required for the catalytic activity of over 200 enzymes. The content of zinc varies greatly depending on the food source. Below is a list of food sources that contain zinc. They are listed from the highest concentrations to the lowest concentrations. 

  • Oysters
  • Beef chuck roast 
  • Alaskan King crab
  • Ground beef 
  • Lobster
  • Pork chop
  • Chicken thigh/leg
  • Wheat germ
  • Wild rice
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cashews
  • Chickpeas
  • Almonds
  • Kidney beans
  • Green peas
  • Flounder 

Zinc Supplementation & Absorption 

The more of a mineral you absorb into your bloodstream, the less of it that ends up in your stool, and the greater the opportunity for it to do its work in your body. With most forms of Zinc, the compound needs to be separated from the element. Liquid forms of zinc bypass that and also bypass absorption problems. Liquid forms need a smaller dose for therapeutic use, pass into circulation faster, offer a higher dose in a smaller quantity, can adjust dose easier without having to halve a pill or capsule, and reach stomach acid faster.

Recommended Dosage - How Much Zinc Per Day?

The RDA for zinc is 11 mg/d for adults over eighteen years. Although the RDA is the amount needed to prevent a deficiency, it’s not necessarily a therapeutic amount. In time of viral infection, increase dosage. The tolerable upper limit for zinc is 40 mg/d in the same population, but even that is often exceeded in active infection, especially where recruitment of zinc metallothionein is desired for virus treatment. Because of its nano-particle size, BodyBio Liquid Zinc has the capacity to enter systemic circulation without having to be otherwise broken down. From foods, about fifteen percent to forty percent of zinc is absorbed. 

The Bottom Line on Zinc

Zinc is an essential trace element and clearly critical for our health. In most instances, the better that a mineral is absorbed, the fewer the side effects, which are often GI symptoms such as constipation or diarrhea. Whichever form you chose, we recommend taking Zinc with food because zinc is notorious for causing nausea on an empty stomach.

References

Jan Alexander, Alexey Tinkov, Tor A Strand, Urban Alehagen, Anatoly Skalny, Jan Aaseth.  Early Nutritional Interventions with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin D for Raising Anti-Viral Resistance Against Progressive COVID-19.  Nutrients. 2020 Aug 7;12(8):2358.

 

F W Beck  A S Prasad, J Kaplan, J T Fitzgerald, G J Brewer.  Changes in cytokine production and T cell subpopulations in experimentally induced zinc-deficient humans.  Am J Physiol. 1997 Jun;272(6 Pt 1):E1002-7.

 

Kyle W Becker, Eric P Skaar.  Metal limitation and toxicity at the interface between host and pathogen.  FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2014 Nov;38(6):1235-49.

 

Robert E Black.  Zinc deficiency, infectious disease and mortality in the developing world.  J Nutr. 2003 May;133(5 Suppl 1):1485S-9S.

  

Philip C Calder, Anitra C Carr, Adrian F Gombart, Manfred Eggersdorfer.  Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections.  Nutrients. 2020 Apr 23;12(4):1181.

 

Husam Dabbagh-Bazarbachi, Gael Clergeaud, Isabel M Quesada, Mayreli Ortiz, Ciara K O'Sullivan, Juan B Fernández-Larrea.  Zinc ionophore activity of quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate: from Hepa 1-6 cells to a liposome model.  J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Aug 13;62(32):8085-93.

 

Urszula Doboszewska, Piotr Wlaź, Gabriel Nowak, Katarzyna Młyniec.   Targeting zinc metalloenzymes in coronavirus disease 2019.  Br J Pharmacol. 2020 Nov;177(21):4887-4898.

 

R Derwand, M Scholz.  Does zinc supplementation enhance the clinical efficacy of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine to win today's battle against COVID-19?.    Med Hypotheses. 2020 Sep;142:109815.

 

Sebastià Galmés, Francisca Serra, Andreu Palou.  Current State of Evidence: Influence of Nutritional and Nutrigenetic Factors on Immunity in the COVID-19 Pandemic Framework.  Nutrients. 2020 Sep 8;12(9):2738.

 

Qiping Lu, Hariprakash Haragopal, Kira G Slepchenko, Christian Stork, Yang V Li.    Intracellular zinc distribution in mitochondria, ER and the Golgi apparatus.  Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 2016 Apr 25;8(1):35-43. eCollection 2016.

 

Amit Pal,  Rosanna Squitti, Mario Picozza, Anil Pawar, Mauro Rongioletti, Atanu Kumar Dutta, et al.  Zinc and COVID-19: Basis of Current Clinical Trials.  Biol Trace Elem Res. 2020 Oct 22;1-11.

 

A S Prasad.  Effects of zinc deficiency on Th1 and Th2 cytokine shifts.  J Infect Dis. 2000 Sep;182 Suppl 1:S62-8.

 

Scott A Read , Stephanie Obeid, Chantelle Ahlenstiel, Golo Ahlenstiel.  The Role of Zinc in Antiviral Immunity.  Adv Nutr. 2019 Jul 1;10(4):696-710.

 

A H Shankar, A S Prasad.  Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection.  Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Aug;68(2 Suppl):447S-463S.

 

Mujeeb Olushola Shittu, Olufemi Ifeoluwa Afolami.  Improving the efficacy of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine against SARS-CoV-2 may require Zinc additives - A better synergy for future COVID-19 clinical trials.  Infez Med. 2020 Ahead of print Jun 1;28(2):192-197.

 

Rahaman O Suara, James E Crowe Jr.  Effect of zinc salts on respiratory syncytial virus replication

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2004 Mar;48(3):783-90.

 

Aartjan J. W. te Velthuis, Sjoerd H. E. van den Worm, Amy C. Sims, Ralph S. Baric, Eric J. Snijder , Martijn J. van Hemert .  Zn2+ Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity In Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture.  PLOS Pathogens.  November 4, 2010.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1001176

 

Eva S Wintergerst, Silvia Maggini, Dietrich H Hornig.  Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function.  Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(4):301-23.

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