Zinc is Not Just for Immunity


If you are in a store that sells nutritional supplements, odds are you will find zinc lozenges.  These are used when you are fighting a cold to help boost the immune system but zinc is so much more.  There are many critical body functions that depend on adequate levels.

Immunity – Zinc increases T Cell growth and enhances differentiation into white blood cells.  It is important in creating proper gene transcription.  It has been shown to be needed in the process of apoptosis (programmed cell death) for viruses, bacteria and even cancer cells.

Thyroid – Zinc is critical for the conversion of Free T4 to Free T3 (active metabolic hormone).  When there are inadequate amounts of zinc in the body, it will be more apt to convert FT4 into RT3 (Reverse T3) which actually “negates” FT3.   This creates lower levels of energy and oxygen being delivered to the cells of the body.  These two hormones compete for the same receptor.  Despite this negative issue, RT3 has a beneficial function.  It is a defense mechanism to protect the body in the event of an over production of FT3.  But if you are already struggling to have enough FT3 you would not want this hormone to be increased unnecessarily.

Allergies – When zinc levels are low in the body it will release an increased amount of histamine.  High histamine will result in sneezing, runny eyes and itching.  Histamine is part of all allergic reactions.

Hair Loss – One of the first things that is looked at by physicians is thyroid levels.  If low, the patient will be given thyroid hormones.  However, this often does not correct the problem.  Low levels of zinc, as stated above, are needed for hormone conversion and are also important in proper adrenal function where sex hormones are released.  Stress can deplete zinc levels in the body.

Leaky Gut / Skin – Zinc is critical in wound healing by supporting the formation of collagen.  Collagen is also important in restoring the lining of the gut wall when leaky gut is an issue.  Leaky gut is a condition where the cell wall becomes permeable in the gut wall allowing proteins to leak directly into the blood stream.   Collagen is also required for skin integrity.  Proper levels will restore “plumpness” thus lessening the appearance of lines and wrinkles.   Since we know that stress lessens zinc, perhaps this is the reason why we see aging in the face when an individual experiences a stressful life.

Fertility – Fertilization of the female egg requires rapid movement of the sperm to the egg along with the ability to permeate the cell wall.  Zinc plays a role in overall quality and quantity of the sperm count.

Diabetes / Blood Sugar – Zinc is highly concentrated in the islet cells of the pancreas where insulin is produced.   It has the potential of promoting healthy insulin production which helps to maintain natural blood sugar control.   Zinc can bind to insulin receptors and activates insulin signaling pathways.  This will result in more glucose uptake into the cells and a lowering of glucose in the blood.   A deficiency in zinc can result in poor ?-cell function and a higher incidence of insulin resistance.

As you can see, zinc is important for overall health.  It is seldom discussed as a needed nutrient, but could be instrumental in combating many common health maladies of the day.  Zinc can be found in grass fed beef, pastured chicken, cashews, garbanzo beans and pumpkin seeds (to name a few) but you may also require supplementing  as well.

Dr Flechas on Zinc & Prostate Cancer

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