We knew about calcium and magnesium as major players in health, but zinc is vital for many reasons. It is estimated that one in ten Americans is actually deficient. But many more may have insufficient zinc intake. And stress and illness may deplete your zinc storage.
Signs of zinc deficiency include: white spots on nails, loss of taste and smell, acne, asthma, learning difficulties, lowered immune response to illness and wounds, dandruff and hair loss, headaches, fatigue, PMS, skin and respiratory allergies, diarrhea, anxiety and depression, and leaky gut. <a title="" href="#_ftn1"></a>
Quite a laundry list for a simple mineral that is easy to find. Vegetarians or anyone eating a grain-based diet are at a disadvantage because substances in grains called phytates can bind with zinc and prevent absorption. Sprouted grains have less phytates, so are a better choice. Copper can also block absorption. So, it is not how much you eat, but what gets into your system.
8-11 mg per day is the Recommended Daily Allowance for zinc, but that is a bare minimum. Beef, lamb, pork, turkey and shellfish like oysters, shrimp and scallops all contain absorbable zinc, with no binders. And protein and healthy fats enhance absorption of minerals. However, the stomach acid must be sufficiently high for mineral absorption. Consider supplementation or drinking organic apple cider vinegar before meals. Good quality whey protein helps zinc to absorb. Aim for 40 mg. per day to top up your tank.
Do you use Zinc based sunscreen? I recommend using the physical barriers like zinc oxide, rather than chemical sunscreens. Zinc sunscreen does absorb through the skin, but the conclusion was that it does not accumulate in unsafe amounts. http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2010/s2830477.htm
If you suffered in the last flu season, now is a good time to increase your zinc intake. I have a simple zinc test in my office that will tell you in 2 minutes if you are zinc deficient. Come in for a free test. 818-562-1400.
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<li><a title="" href="#_ftnref1"></a> Sturniolo GC1, Di Leo V, Ferronato A, D'Odorico A, D'Incà R. Zinc supplementation tightens "leaky gut" in Crohn's disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2001 May;7(2):94-8.</li>