Zinc Benefits for Men and Women

March 23, 2021 92 mins to read

Zinc benefits the proper growth and maintenance of the human body including the healthy function of all your cells tissues, organs and bones. Zinc is the second most abundant trace element in the human body (second to Iron), It’s found in every tissue in the body, and is probably involved in more body functions than any other trace mineral. There are thousands of studies on zinc, with hundreds more added to the National Library of medicine annually. Zinc deficiency can seriously impair human health, performance, reproductive functions, as well as mental and physical development.

Table of Contents

Zinc Daily

A daily adequate intake of Zinc is essential, because the body has no specialized storage system for it. The recommended dose is 15mg / day which ensure optimal zinc balance. Take zinc with food to avoid an upset stomach.

Chelated Zinc Gluconate

Zinc products often contain cadmium which over time can damage kidneys, zinc-gluconate products contain the lowest cadmium levels. Chelate helps increase absorption, which makes the zinc more bio-avilable.

Test zinc levels

Too much zinc can cause health problems just like zinc deficiency can. Preform a zinc level test before taking zinc supplements. Zinc tests using plasma, serum, urine or hair tests, may not always accurately measure your zinc status, due to zinc being found throughout your body as part of proteins and nucleic acids. The best way to measure your zinc intake is to have a registered dietitian evaluate your current diet.

Selenium Synergy

Selenium works synergistically with Zinc in supporting healthy cells and overall health. High-selenium yeast has proved to be the most effective form, beating out all others.

Zinc lozenges for a common cold

Zinc lozenges are typically taken every 1-2 hrs, within 48hrs of the start of symptoms and then 1-2hrs while awake until symptoms are relieved.

Zinc & Copper

Zinc and copper compete for absorption in your gut, therefore taking zinc can lower your blood copper levels. Take zinc supplements with copper to avoid a zinc-copper imbalance.

Common Types of Zinc Explained

I always recommend you go with a natural organic supplements…New studies come out frequently on chelated and inorganic forms of manufactured zinc, and sometimes the safety and efficacy of these synthetic supplements, changes…on the other hand the natural forms are found in your food, they are safe, effective and aren’t as risk of and new studies proving otherwise.

*Chelation is a common process where each molecule packs a higher concentration (of in this case zinc), by attaching the mineral to something else, such as an amino acid, in theory it helps increase absorption, which makes the zinc more bioavailable (there is a dispute weather chelating minerals increases absorption.) This method of “chelation” is used for a broad range of nutrients and supplements (it’s not unique to zinc). Further explained Chelation is the process whereby organic molecules are given an electric charge which attracts the charged mineral (in this case zinc) which temporarily increases the complexity and concentration of the mineral within the molecule.

  1. Zinc Gluconate Recommended– The most popular form of zinc, zinc gluconate is created by fermenting glucose. Cadmium and zinc are found in nature together and so many zinc supplements have cadmium which over the long-term can cause kidney damage. Zinc Gluconate contains the lowest cadmium levels of most Zinc supplements, but is less bioavailable and therefore little of it is absorbed by your body.
  2. Zinc Glycinate Chelate – Combines zinc with two glycine molecules to help it cross your intestinal wall. It also helps protect the zinc from competing minerals and phytate binding.
  3. Zinc orotate – Zinc which is chelated to orotic acid, a form which contains antioxidant properties, and is more easily absorbed by the human body. Dr. Hans Nieper has found that orotate forms of zinc were more neutrally charged, as compared to other types of zinc. This allowed them to pass through the membranes of cells easily, leading to higher tissue concentrations of zinc.
  4. Zinc Picolinate – A form of zinc chelated to picolinic amino acids.
  5. Zinc Acetate – Also known as Zinc Salt dihydrate, this form of zinc is chelated to acetic acid, a form which is considered to be more readily absorbed then zinc gluconate. Zinc Acetate is often used to aid in reducing the duration of the common cold, provide relief for Wilson’s disease (store of toxic levels of copper). However this form is not recommended for daily supplementation.
  6. Zinc Sulfate – A water soluble, non-chelated, inorganic form of zinc. There is Aa debate on weather the human body can absorb and metabolize it. Not recommended.
  7. Zinc Oxide – A non-chelated, inorganic form of zinc, often used as a topical ointment for minor skin conditions such as burns, rashes, irritation and a common ingredient in sun-screens (It can defend against sunburns by reflecting and scattering ultraviolet rays so they do not penetrate the skin. ). There is a debate on weather zinc oxide can absorb and metabolize this form of inorganic zinc.

Zinc Side Effects | Zinc Overdose Symptoms

Although it would take supplementation of well over the safe upper limit of 400 mcg to experience any symptoms. If you already had an adequate intake of zinc through your diet, and added daily zinc supplements it is possible to experience zinc toxicity.

Acute zinc overdose symptoms mimic those of food poisoning including: vomiting, indigestions, abdominal cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. If you taking zinc supplements and have recently exhibited some of these symptoms you may want to contact a healthcare professional to seek zinc level testing.

Excessive zinc supplementation which exceeds the required daily intake of 40mg per day, may exhibit the following symptoms: lowered iron amounts (iron deficiency anemia), copper deficiencies (associated with blood disorders such as sideroblastic anemia), Reduced levels of high-density lipoproteins (also known as good cholesterol) and Reduced immune function.

Zinc interactions with Medications

Zinc supplements have the potential to interact with several medications. If you’re on on medication, please contact your doctor before taking a zinc supplement, to ensure it doesn’t have a reaction with your medication. If you’re the type of person that likes to do their own research you can use drugs.com Interaction Checker to check possible vitamin reactions with your current medications.

If you are taking antibiotics, take the supplement either four to six hours ahead of the antibiotic or take the antibiotic two hours after. Similarly, if you take the supplement either two hours before or after Penicillamine, you minimize the negative interactions.

  • Penicillamine — used to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Thiazide diuretics — can increase the amount of zinc lost in urination. For people with zinc deficiencies, they may need to take higher doses of this drug.
  • Quinolone or tetracycline antibiotics — zinc can interfere with their ability to fight bacteria.

Zinc Importance in the body

Zinc essential to healthy cell division, fertility, the immune system, skin, hair and nail health and brain function related to vision, taste, smell and appetite. Zinc is required for each step of the cell cycle in microorganisms and is essential for DNA Synthesis (Prasad, 1989).  Nearly 10% of the proteins encoded in the human genome require zinc for their proper structure and function. Zinc is a building block for over 3,000 proteins and plays an essential role in biochemical function as it is the essential component of the active site of over 300 enzymes. Zinc plays such a critical role in immune function, healthy cell growth and inflammatory response to sickness, make sure zinc deficiency isn’t effecting your health.

  • Function of Testes (in man and animals)
  • Function of Liver
  • Function of Muscles
  • Bone Structure
  • Teeth (Zinc deficiency causes mottled teeth in rats –Teraki  and Ishiyama, 1990)
  • Hair
  • Skin

Zinc Benefits | Top Zinc Health Benefits

  • Immunity Support – Adequate Zinc levels support a healthy, productive immune system. Zinc has been known to boost immune system in zinc deficient patients. Studies show Zinc along with NO and GSH helps to regulate your bodies immune response to antigens. However zinc levels should be tested, because- an over abundance of zinc can weaken the immune system.
  • Anti-Viral – Studies show Zinc is a critical factor that can influence antiviral immunity, as a direct antiviral and stimulant of antiviral immunity, and makes zinc an effective supplement for the prevention and therapeutic treatment of viral infections. It most benefits zinc-deficient populations at risk of viral infections such as HIV or hepatitis C virus. These studies support the therapeutic use of zinc for infections like herpes simplex virus and colds.
  • Supports Healthy cell grown and replication – Your cells DNA is the blueprint for healthy cell replication. Studies demonstrate adequate zinc levels can lead to improved repair of DNA strand breaks along the serum protein concentrations involved with DNA repair to help restore antioxidant and immune functions.
  • Antioxidant Properties – Zinc is considered a powerful antioxidant which helps prevent free radical damage and oxidative stress on the body’s cells.
  • Heart Health – Zinc deficiency contributes to high cholesterol and increased inflammation, it also can amplify the negative effects of these and other conditions, resulting from poor cardiovascular health.
  • Respiratory health – Zinc helps promote respiratory function.
  • Bone Health – Zinc regulates the balance between bone building and bone breakdown (particularly important as you age) and promotes bone mineralization through its role as a cofactor of alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme found in your bone cells.
  • Eye Health – Studies show zinc may help delay age-related vision loss by protecting against free radical damage to retina cells. Zinc also works together with vitamin A to help your eyes sense light and transmit nerve impulses to your brain.
  • Athletic Strength and Performance – Zinc plays a vital role in the production of three hormones essential for developing and maintaining muscle strength: testosteronegrowth hormone and growth factor-1.
  • Taste Buds and Appetite – Zinc supports functional taste buds, and your ability to properly taste food. Zinc deficiency can lead to taste and eating disorders that result in worsened nutrient deficiencies.
  • Reproduction & Fertility – Zinc plays an essential role in reproductive health and fertility of men and women. Zinc is essential for hormone production. Women: Zinc is necessary for the growth process of the egg and the proper function of estrogen. Men: zinc helps balance testosterone levels and may help to boost the libido.
  • Proper Child Growth – Recent global estimates indicate that over a quarter of children under 5 years of age are stunted, and consequently are at an increased risk of dying and other adverse consequences throughout life. Adequate zinc support proper growth in children according to the WHO. Zinc deficiency restricts childhood growth and decreases resistance to infections.
  • Diabetes – Zinc deficiency can cause lower insulin sensitivity and greater glucose intolerance. Maintaining good zinc levels can aid patients suffering from diabetes and even help to prevent the development of diabetes.
  • Nutrient Absorption – Zinc is essential in helping your body absorb other nutrients including folate from food. Zinc also acts as a cofactor in carbohydrate and protein metabolism.
  • Mental Health & Alzheimer’s – The part of your brain that houses zinc is the cerebral cortex, including your hippocampus and amygdala. This crucial region is responsible for memory, spatial ability, thinking, and emotions. Zinc helps prevent accumulation of defective proteins in your brain (proteins that lose correct shape due to damage which cease working properly and clump together) Zinc helps in creating and holding proteins in their correct shape. Zinc also helps the body to detoxify metals and remove high levels of minerals like iron from the brain. This process is necessary to maintain healthy brain tissue (and good brain function) and may play a significant role in reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Studies suggest Zinc plays an important role in treating children suffering from ADHD, as often they have notable lower zinc levels then children who don’t have ADHD.
  • Depression – Zinc increases the production of a protein for the nerve synapses in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).2 This compound is instrumental in helping nerve cells recover and repair damage, which aids to ward off depression by keeping the essential synapses active and healthy.
  • Cancer Prevention – Maintaining zinc balance in the body is essential to pro-active cancer prevention. Zinc deficiency may play a crucial role in the development of many types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer. Zinc alone does not prevent or cure cancer, it works with other key nutrients to help maintain a healthy immune system and provides antioxidant properties that help fight cancer-related conditions.
  • Cancer Treatment – Studies show zinc inhibits the growth of tumors by activating the endogenous tumor suppressor endostatin which inhibits angiogenesis. Zinc supplements can help curb the side effects of radiation therapy used for cancer treatment. It helps stimulate the taste spuds, which helps restore appetite and can reduce mouth sores

1. Immune Support | Zinc Benefits

Adequate Zinc levels are important to the growth and function of immune cells. Zinc supports a healthy, productive immune system. With adequate levels of zinc, the cells that protect your body from viruses: lymphocytes, neutrophils and macrophages, can do their job correctly! Zinc helps regulate your body’s immune system response to antigens, which helps ward off sickness and helps you heal faster from injuries or sickness.

2. Antiviral Properties of Zinc | Zinc Benefits

Zinc deficiency is considered a risk factor for the development of various respiratory conditions including pneumonia. Studies show zinc can help as a therapy for pneumonia, rhinoviruses and even covid-19. In addition Zinc’s anti-inflammatory effects, reduce damage to lung tissue. Zinc helps the body resist bacteria as well.

  1. Several studies show the effectiveness of zinc-containing drugs in decreasing severity and duration of symptoms and reducing the prevalence of pneumonia.
  2. Observations of the development of other viruses, such as rhinoviruses (this family includes pathogens of acute respiratory diseases), show that an increase in the level of zinc in cells suppresses replication (reproduction) of the virus and stimulates production of interferon alpha, which has an antiviral activity.
  3. Researchers from Austin Health and the University of Melbourne are investigating the use of intravenous zinc to fight the symptoms associated with viruses. This research is based on evidence that zinc may help to slow the rate that viruses replicate in the body. A clinical trial has been fast-tracked to test the benefits of a daily injection of zinc chloride in patients with viruses.
  4. Researchers state that getting enough zinc may possess a protective effect on COVID-19 through reducing lung inflammation and helping to clear out the lungs, preventing ventilator-induced lung injury as well as modulating antibacterial and antiviral immunity — especially in older adults. They chalk these potential benefits to zinc’s anti-inflammatory effects, pinpointing zinc supplementation as a potential way to prevent pneumonia and its complications.
  5. On one anecdotal study, published in medRxiv, researchers found than when combined with medications for COVID-19 patients, “zinc sulfate increased the frequency of patients being discharged home, and decreased the need for ventilation, admission to the ICU, and mortality or transfer to hospice for patients who were never admitted to the ICU. After adjusting for the time at which zinc sulfate was added to the protocol, an increased frequency of being discharged home (OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.12-2.09) reduction in mortality or transfer to hospice remained significant (OR 0.449, 95% CI 0.271-0.744).”
  6. Researchers from Sechenov University in collaboration with colleagues from Germany, Greece and Russia reviewed scientific articles on the role of zinc containing drugs for viral infections and pneumonia, with projections on those caused by SARS-CoV-2. They found certain indications suggest that modulation of zinc status may be beneficial in COVID‑19.
    • In vitro experiments demonstrate that Zn2+ possesses antiviral activity through inhibition of SARS‑CoV RNA polymerase.
    • Indirect evidence also indicates that Zn2+ may decrease the activity of angiotensin‑converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), known to be the receptor for SARS‑CoV‑2.
    • Improved antiviral immunity by zinc may also occur through up‑regulation of interferon α production and increasing its antiviral activity.
    • Zinc possesses anti‑inflammatory activity by inhibiting NF‑κB signaling and modulation of regulatory T‑cell functions that may limit the cytokine storm in COVID‑19.
    • Improved Zn status may also reduce the risk of bacterial co‑infection by improving mucociliary clearance and barrier function of the respiratory epithelium, as well as direct antibacterial effects against S. pneumoniae.
    • Zinc status is also tightly associated with risk factors for severe COVID‑19 including ageing, immune deficiency, obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis, since these are known risk groups for zinc deficiency.
    • Therefore, in regard to COVID-19, Zn may possess protective effect through reducing inflammation, improvement of mucociliary clearance, prevention of ventilator‑induced lung injury, modulation of antiviral and antibacterial immunity.
    • However, further clinical and experimental studies are required.

3. Supports Healthy Cell Growth and replication | Zinc Benefits

Zinc is plays a vital role in cell grown and proliferation, it preforms this function along with other nutrients and through many different mechanisms. Zinc may directly regulate DNA synthesis through reduced levels of adenosine(5′)tetraphosphate(5′)-adenosine. In addition Zinc plays a role in hormonal signaling, which means it regulates the production of certain hormones, in order to facilitate its contribution to the growth and proliferation of cells.

“Removing zinc from the extracellular milieu results in decreased activity of deoxythymidine kinase and reduced levels of adenosine(5′)tetraphosphate(5′)-adenosine. Hence, zinc may directly regulate DNA synthesis through these systems. Zinc also influences hormonal regulation of cell division. Specifically, the pituitary growth hormone (GH)–insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) axis is responsive to zinc status. Both increased and decreased circulating concentrations of GH have been observed in zinc deficiency, although circulating IGF-I concentrations are consistently decreased. However, growth failure is not reversed by maintaining either GH or IGF-I levels through exogenous administration, which suggests the defect occurs in hormone signaling. Zinc appears to be essential for IGF-I induction of cell proliferation; the site of regulation is postreceptor binding. Overall, the evidence suggests that reduced zinc availability affects membrane signaling systems and intracellular second messengers that coordinate cell proliferation in response to IGF-I.” —The Role of Zinc in Growth and Cell Proliferation by Ruth S. Macdonald

While there are six classes of known proteins that act as transporters or channels enabling zinc to cross the cell membrane, scientists have identified one metal-specific family of proteins “ZIP Proteins” whose purpose is to facilitate the cell’s zinc uptake.

4. Zinc an Antioxidant | Zinc Benefits

excerpts from Antioxidants Explained in Simple Terms by healthline.com

Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are constantly being formed in your body, they are “free” compounds kind of like mercenaries for hire. Pollutants in and around your body can potentially “hire” these free radicals and turn them from mercenaries into Bad Agents, such as diseases, infection and sickness. Free radicals therefore have the potential to cause harm to your body, especially at elevated levels. However free radical’s also serve important functions which are essential to good health, such as use by your immune cells to fight infections.

Prolonged oxidative stress can damage your DNA and other important molecules in your body. Sometimes it even leads to cell death. The job of antioxidants is tokeep those levels of free radicals low at levels your body can handle, before they can be turned into unhealthy conditions. Most foods contain antioxidants as well as supplements like vitamin E, vitamin C, and Astaxanthin.

Environmental Factors which promote excessive free radical formation & oxidative stress

5. Zinc and Heart Health | Zinc Benefits

Zinc helps to regulate your heart beat! In a study by University of Leicester evidence suggests zinc plays a key role in regulating the way calcium moves in your heart cells. Normally, calcium is released through “gates” known as type-2 ryanodine receptors (RyR2). Proper control of these gates is important, since excessive calcium release may lead to heart failure and fatal arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat). In addition zinc supports heart health through it’s well documented antioxidant properties by scavenging and eliminating free radicals.

6. Zinc and Respiratory Health | Zinc Benefits

  1. Researchers in Japan have identified zinc transport as a critical element of lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis. They discovered that abnormalities of the ion channels ENaC and CFTR reduce the body’s ability to deliver zinc ions to lung epithelial cells. One of the zinc ion transporting factors, ZIP2, is an important mechanism for mRNA splicing to function correctly. In addition, the researchers also revealed that COPD and CF lung epithelial cells have abnormalities in mRNA ligation, which resulted in overproduction of mucus genes.
    • Obstructive pulmonary disease is a collective term for respiratory diseases with chronic airway inflammation and excessive mucus retention that are accompanied by blockage of the airways.
      • COPD, caused by smoking, is thought to involve the overactivation of the epithelial sodium ion channel (ENaC) in the airways.
      • CF, an intractable hereditary disease characterized by mucus retention and chronic bacterial infection, is caused by genetic mutation of a chloride ion channel called the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR).
  2. In a 2018 study, zinc was investigated for its potential ability to reduce the mortality rate of severe pneumonia. Supplementation with zinc may be able to prevent acute lower respiratory tract infections and reduce the severity of pneumonia cases by decreasing the duration of symptoms.
  3. A 2000 study found that COPD patients could be susceptible to develop zinc deficiency; the situation increases the possibility of infection diseases.

7. Zinc and Bone health | Zinc Benefits

Zinc regulates the balance between bone building by stimulating bone formation and bone breakdown, which is particularly important as you age. In addition adequate Zinc levels help with: mental health, depression, healthy taste buds, vision decline and more, which overall helps you maintain a healthy body and excellent bone health.

  1. Zinc deficiency prevents proper absorption of calcium.
  2. In bone metabolism zinc is required to produce the matrix of collagen protein threads where the bone-forming calcium-phosphorus compound is deposited.
  3. Zinc promotes bone mineralization through its role as a cofactor of alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme found in your bone cells.
  4. Zinc is required for the production of enzymes that degrade and recycle worn-out bits of bone protein.
  5. Zinc is essential for bone healing and increased amounts are found at the sides of bone repair.
  6. Depression releases substances that contribute to bone density losses and increase the risk of fractures. Zinc helps by increasing the production of a compound that stimulates healthy nerve cell activity and reduces levels of those harmful substances.

8. Zinc and Eye Health | Vision Support

Adequate zinc levels (along with other key nutrients) supports healthy eyesight. Zinc does this by improving cell metabolism to preserve the function of your eyes and your eyesight as a whole. Zinc also helps slow the progression of conditions that cause vision to decline and even reduces the loss of visual acuity by a large margin.

Other nutrients for Eye Health

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are the only dietary carotenoids found in your retina, concentrated mostly in the macula region (located at the back of your eye).

  • Dietary antioxidants and anti-inflammatories may provide benefit in decreasing the risk of age-related eye disease.
  • Nutrients of interest are vitamin C, Vitamin E, β-carotene, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid EPA and docosahexaenoic acid DHA

Lutein and Zeaxanthin for Eye Health

Lutein is part of the carotenoid family of antioxidants. Carotenoids are a type of phytonutrient, or plant chemical, found in the cells of many types of plants.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin Dosage

Lutein is classified by the FDA as GRAS (Generally Recommended as Safe). Research suggests 10mg Lutien and 2mg Zeaxanthin was effective at reducing progression to advanced AMD.

Lutein Foods

Lutein is high in the following foods: kale, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, parsley, basil, leeks, peas.

  • suppress inflammation
  • defend against free radicals and oxidative stress
  • enhance the sharpness of your vision
  • improve your visual contrast sensitivity
  • reduce glare impairment
  • protect eye tissue from sunlight damage
  • reduce cell loss and death related to eye disease
  • protect your eyes from harmful blue light
  • convert light signals into electrical signals in your retina and aid in the transmission of those signals to the visual cortex in your brain
  • protect against nearsightedness (myopia) and protect pre-term infants against the effects of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)

There is also evidence that Lutein helps with eye conditions: Age-related macular degeneration AMD, Diabetic retinopathy, Cataracts and Dry eye disease.

9. Zinc and Athletic Performance | Zinc benefits

Adequate zinc directly affects athletic performance and strength development from training, because it plays a primary role in anabolic hormone production. Zinc plays an essential role in producing testosteronegrowth hormone and growth factor-1.

  • Zinc plays a vital role in the regulation of testosterone metabolism, and the scientific literature shows that a zinc deficiency can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels and low testosterone levels can cause hypertrophy to be hindered and you may even lose lean tissue mass.
  • A study fed athletes a low-zinc and high zinc diet and researchers found that low-zinc diets cause a drop in carbonic anhydrase levels, leading to impaired peak aerobic power, aerobic efficiency and ventilatory efficiency. Analysis of the results showed that peak oxygen uptake, carbon dioxide output and respiratory exchange ratio all decreased on the low-zinc diet, while the ventilatory demand for any given level of exercise increased. In plain English, the men used less oxygen, produced less carbon dioxide and breathed more strenuously during exercise on the low-zinc diet by comparison with the high-zinc diet.
  • During physical exertion, the body loses zinc through sweat and increased metabolism. Regular training therefore requires increased zinc intake. A recent study with 1,400 participants showed that athletes have significantly lower zinc levels in their bloodstream than non-athletes.
  • Athletes are susceptible to diseases of the upper respiratory tract due to stress during exercise in what’s called the “open-window” effect. This is the result of a weakened immune system, particularly in the first 24 hours after exercise. Zinc supports the immune system which helps the body recover faster after exercise.
  • In addition magnesium, iron, probiotics and amino acid glutamine are very important for athletes, both by increasing the body’s defenses and strengthening the overall immune system.

10. Zinc, taste buds and appetite | Zinc Benefits

Zinc supports functional taste buds, and your ability to properly taste food. Zinc deficiency can lead to taste and eating disorders that result in worsened nutrient deficiencies. One of the most well known eating disorders Anorexia Nervosa, is a condition significantly worsened by zinc deficiency, and its effect on taste.

How your taste buds utilize zinc? | Zinc Benefits

Your body utilizes smell (olfactory hair cells in olfactory epithelium of the nasal roof) and taste receptors (on the tongue) which sends signals to the brain through nerves in the form of nerve impulses, which the brain interprets as sensations. Taste receptors and cells frequently die and are replaced by stem cells present nearby, therefore division of these stem cells maintains normal cell count. Zinc is a vital component of more then 300 enzymes of our body, this includes enzymes essential for stimulating the basal stem cells division. In addition studies show normal levels of zinc are required for peripheral nerve conduction from sensory receptors in the brain.

An enzyme called carbonic anhydrase (CA) VI, also known as gustin, is present in the taste buds. It contains zinc, and is essential for the taste buds to get stimulated. Research studies on mice displays evidence that deficiency of this zinc-containing CA VI causes abnormal perception of bitter tastes

  • Oral zinc has been used to treat smell and taste disorders (STDs) that are caused mainly by some physiological changes or injuries
  • loss of smell and taste, or Anosmia, is one of COVID-19’s well known symptoms. Studies show zinc supplementation can play a role in alleviating anosmia.
  • In a study, it was found that although zinc supplementation did not have an effect on chemotherapy related smell and taste changes, it improved these sensations in patients with zinc deficiency.
  • Similarly, in another research, zinc supplementations were given to 32 patients with alcoholic cirrhosis to check the results of this therapy. Alcoholic cirrhosis is an advanced liver disease caused by prolonged alcohol consumption. It causes the liver to become stiff and almost dysfunctional. Along with beneficial effects on cirrhosis, significant improvement in smell and taste sensations for a few patients was reported.

Other nutrients that support taste buds and help alleviate symptoms of anosmia

  1. Vitamin A – Studies show evidence that intake of vitamin A, which is abundant in cod liver oil, carrots and fruits, alleviates uncomplicated anosmia and post-infectious olfactory loss.
  2. Vitamin C
  3. Vitamin D
  4. Alpha-Lipoic Acid – Triggers the release of certain nerve growth-factors in the body that have a role in regulating the nerve cells and their conductive function. Therefore, signals are better conducted from the olfactory receptors to the brai
  5. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – has anti-inflammatory properties in both peripheral and central nervous system.

11. Zinc, Reproduction and Fertility | Zinc benefits

excerpts from Zinc and reproduction: effects of zinc deficiency on prenatal and early postnatal development and The role of zinc in reproduction. Hormonal mechanisms and Zinc, copper and selenium in reproduction

Zinc is necessary for the formation and maturation of spermatozoa, for ovulation, and for fertilization. The mechanisms by which zinc contributes to these biological processes can be explained by its multiple action on the metabolism of androgen hormones, estrogen and progesterone, together with the prostaglandins. Nuclear receptors for steroids are all zinc finger proteins.

Zinc and female fertility | Zinc Benefits

In women Zinc is necessary for the growth process of the egg and the proper function of estrogen. Zinc deficiency in the female can lead to such problems as impaired synthesis/secretion of (FSH) and (LH), abnormal ovarian development, disruption of the estrous cycle, frequent abortion, a prolonged gestation period, teratogenicity, stillbirths, difficulty in parturition, pre-eclampsia, toxemia and low birth weights of infants. 

There are many studies which provide evidence that human pregnancy outcome is largely influenced by the mothers nutritional status. A mother with a nutrient deficient diet is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy complications, including gross structural birth defects, prematurity, low birth weight, and an increased risk for neurobehavioral and immunological abnormalities after birth. Zinc is essential for hormone production, and plays an essential role in reproductive health and fertility of men and women.

  • ” Zinc deficiency (ZD) affects fetal growth and development both in experimental animals and in man. The teratogenicity of zinc deficiency was widely demonstrated in animals and is also evident in humans. Alcohol intoxication potentiates the effects of ZD in animals. Plasma zinc levels decrease during pregnancy and apparently an adequate and continuous intake of zinc is required for a normal embryonic development…Zinc deficiency also affects adversely parturition. Mild zinc deficiency may affect a large number of pregnant women, being potentially harmful to the mother and the fetus. This situation requires the screening of high-risk groups, the definition of adequate dietary intakes for each population, and the supplementation with zinc when deficits are detected.” [Zinc, pregnancy and parturition]
  • “Therefore the risk of deficiency is real and its manifestations are numerous. There is a risk of spontaneous abortion, gravidic toxemia, treatment-resistant anemia, abnormally prolonged gestation and difficult delivery for the mother. As for the fetus, with zinc deficiency there is a risk of hypotrophism and malformations with potentialization of the teratogenic effect of alcohol and many medications. Besides, in animals, zinc deficiency during pregnancy results in late effects several months after birth: decrease immunity, learning or memory disorders. In view of all these consequences, administration of supplements is imperative and must be evaluated providing that it does not exceed 50 mg of zinc per day. ” [Effects of zinc deficiency in pregnancy on the mother and the newborn infant]

Maternal Zinc Deficiency

Studies as far back as 40 years ago, showed irrefutable evidence that Zinc deficiency is teratogenic “Maternal zinc deficiency produces effects ranging from infertility and embryo/fetal death, to intrauterine growth retardation and teratogenesis. Postnatal complications of maternal zinc deficiency can also occur, and include behavioral abnormalities, impaired immunocompetence, and an elevated risk for high blood pressure in the offspring. It has been suggested that developmental zinc deficiency in humans can present a significant challenge to the conceptus, increasing the risk for numerous defects.”

Zinc and male fertility | Zinc Benefits

In men zinc helps balance testosterone levels and may help to boost the libido. Zinc content is high in the adult testis, and the prostate has a higher concentration of zinc than any other organ of the body. Zinc deficiency first impairs angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activity, and this in turn leads to depletion of testosterone and inhibition of spermatogenesis

Other key vitamins that support fertility and reproduction

Of the nine biological trace elements, zinc, copper and selenium are important in reproduction in males and females. 

  • Selenium – “Selenium deficiency in females results in infertility, abortions and retention of the placenta. The newborns from a selenium-deficient mother suffer from muscular weakness, but the concentration of selenium during pregnancy does not have any effect on the weight of the baby or length of pregnancy. The selenium requirements of a pregnant and lactating mother are increased as a result of selenium transport to the fetus via the placenta and to the infant via breast milk.”

12. Zinc and child growth | Zinc benefits

Adequate zinc supports proper growth in children according to the WHO.

  • Zinc deficiency restricts childhood growth and decreases resistance to infections. Recent global estimates indicate that over a quarter of children under 5 years of age are stunted, that amounts to Approximately 155 million children under five years of age, and consequently are at an increased risk of dying and other adverse consequences throughout life.
  • In the U.S., zinc deficiency in children is not well recognized, but it affects an estimated 6% of girls and 10% of boys overall. Disadvantaged children are especially at risk — more than 50% of poor children and 30% of non-poor children aged 1-5 get less than 70% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance of zinc (10 milligrams per day for children). In fact, recent data suggest that of 16 key nutrients, more children were deficient in zinc than in any other nutrient. This comes from a report that reviewed 33 studies on the effects of zinc supplementation on children up to 10 years old published from 1976-2001.
  • Guatemalan study that found three years of zinc supplementation (from 3 to 36 months of age) was responsible for nearly an inch in additional growth.
  • A meta analysis of Seventy-eight trials with 34,352 unique participants were studied, including 24 during pregnancy and 54 in infancy/childhood which found that zinc supplementation after birth increased height and weight of offspring. And also child age zinc supplementation (particularly starting at age 2+) had a much larger effect on growth.

13. Zinc and Diabetes | Zinc Benefits

more studies on zinc and diabetes at the National Library of Medicine: National Center for Biotechnology Information [NIH]

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a disease associated with dysfunctional metabolic processes that lead to abnormally high levels of blood glucose. Preceding the development of T2DM is insulin resistance (IR), a disorder associated with suppressed or delayed responses to insulin. 

“The prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) is internationally ever-growing. Therefore, prevention, diagnostics, and control of insulin resistance and T2DM are of increasing importance. It has been suggested that mechanisms leading to insulin resistance and diabetes and its complications include high intake of refined and energy-rich food, which is presumed to be accompanied by suboptimal intake of trace elements, such as Zinc (Zn), Selenium (Se), Chromium (Cr), and Copper (Cu), which are essential and crucial for various biological processes.”

Studies show evidence that an adequate level of zinc have a beneficial effect on glycemic control, and a reduction in the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, conversely too high of zinc levels can also increase the risk of T2DM, suggesting consulting a dietician, to measure zinc intake and test zinc levels, is important before supplementing with higher doses of zinc is essential.

  • A meta-analysis of 16 studies on Zincs protective role against type 2 diabetes stated “A direct relationship was found between serum/plasma zinc levels and T2DM (OR = 1.64, 95% CI: 1.25-2.14). A moderately high dietary zinc intake, in relation to the Dietary Reference Intake, could reduce by 13% the risk of T2DM, and up to 41% in rural areas.” In addition they discovered that too high of zinc levels in the serum/plasma was associated with an increased risk of T2DM by 64%, suggesting that adequate zinc is important but overdosing on zinc can be just as harmful to T2DM risk.
  • Type 2 Diabetes has deleterious consequences of oxidative stress in people with the condition. A study on Potential antioxidant effects of zinc and chromium supplementation in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus showed evidence of the potential beneficial antioxidant effects of supplementation with Zinc and Cr in people with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
  • A study on Magnesium-zinc-calcium-vitamin D co-supplementation on glycemic control and markers of cardiometabolic risk in gestational diabetes mellitus, showed evidence that supplementing with these nutrients for 6 weeks among patients with GDM had beneficial effects on glycemic control and a few markers of cardiometabolic risk.
  • A study on The Role of Zinc and Copper in Insulin Resistance and Diabetes Mellitus ” Zinc appears to activate key molecules that are involved in cell signaling, which maintain the homeostasis of glucose. Zinc also regulates insulin receptors, prolongs the action of insulin, and promotes healthy lipid profiles. Copper in excess can create oxidative stress, which is a factor in the onset and the progression of T2DM. Abnormal Zn and Cu metabolism appears to accompany and may also cause diabetes complications.”
  • A study on Zinc transporters and insulin resistance: therapeutic implications for type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease found “zinc transporters could provide novel utility to be targeted experimentally and in a clinical setting to treat patients with insulin resistance and thus introduce a new class of drug target with utility for diabetes pharmacotherapy.”
  • A study on Targeting the Zinc Transporter ZIP7 in the Treatment of Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes stated a major factor considered to be the cause of Insulin resistance, is endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. They found that “zinc and the proteins that transport this metal ion have been implicated in the ER stress response. Specifically, the ER-specific zinc transporter ZIP7, coined the “gate-keeper” of zinc release from the ER into the cytosol, was shown to be essential for maintaining ER homeostasis in intestinal epithelium and myeloid leukaemia cells. Moreover, ZIP7 controls essential cell signaling pathways similar to insulin and activates glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. Accordingly, ZIP7 may be essential for the control of ER localized zinc and mechanisms that disrupt this process may lead to ER-stress and contribute to Insulin Resistance.”

14. Zinc and nutrient absorption | Zinc benefits

Remember that Zinc is a building block for over 3,000 proteins and plays an essential role in biochemical function as it is the essential component of the active site of over 300 enzymes. Needless to say adequate zinc helps nearly every aspect of your health in some way or another. In addition Zinc is essential in helping your body to absorb other vitamins and minerals in a variety of ways.

  1. Zinc helps your body to absorb folate from food
  2. Foods rich in Zinc are also loaded with other vitamins and minerals such as protein and fiber, so obtaining zinc through your diet, also increases the overall nutrition of your diet.
  3. Your body maintains a balance of zinc and copper. Zinc helps to reduce copper levels, therefore zinc is best supplemented with copper (see dosage info box above).
  4. Zinc acts as a cofactor in carbohydrate and protein metabolism.

15. Zinc and Mental Health | Zinc Benefits

The part of your brain that houses zinc is the cerebral cortex, including your hippocampus and amygdala. This crucial region is responsible for memory, spatial ability, thinking, and emotions.

  1. Zinc helps prevent accumulation of defective proteins in your brain (proteins that lose correct shape due to damage which cease working properly and clump together)
  2. Zinc helps in creating and holding proteins in their correct shape.

Zinc and Alzheimer’s | Zinc Benefits

Alzheimer’s is expected to become a problem with the growing elderly population. Although aging and inherent genetic predisposition play major roles in the onset of AD, lifestyle, physical fitness, medical condition, and social environment have emerged as relevant disease modifiers. These environmental risk factors can play a key role in accelerating or decelerating disease onset and progression

Chronic exposure to various metals has become more common among the public as the aggressive pace of anthropogenic activities releases excess amount of metals into the environment. Zinc helps the body to detoxify metals and remove high levels of minerals like iron from the brain. This process is necessary to maintain healthy brain tissue (and good brain function) and may play a significant role in reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition Alzheimer’s patients often exhibit higher than normal copper levels, Zinc helps reduce copper absorption and consequently lowers blood copper levels.

  • A study on Zinc transporters in Alzheimer’s disease stated “More than 20 years of multidisciplinary studies have shown that brain zinc dyshomeostasis may play a critical role in AD progression, which provides encouraging clues for metal-targeted therapies in the treatment of AD…emerging findings revealed a list of key zinc transporters whose mRNA or protein levels were abnormally altered at different stages of AD brains. Furthermore, specifically modulating the expression of some of the zinc transporters in the central nervous system through genetic methods slowed down or prevented AD progression in animal models, resulting in significantly improved cognitive performance, movement, and prolonged lifespan. 
  • A study An attempt to elucidate the role of iron and zinc ions in development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases stated nutritional imbalances including that of zinc and iron deficiency can “eventuate in numerous disturbances, among them oxidative stress, accumulation of amyloid β and the formation of neurofibrillary tangles, let alone the increase in α-synuclein concentration.” all of which can be significant factors, in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s.
  • In a study on Metal Toxicity Links to Alzheimer’s Disease and Neuroinflammation found that “toxic metals including lead, aluminum, and cadmium, which perturb metal homeostasis at the cellular and organismal levels.” are also a significant factor in accelerating or decelerating Alzheimer’s onset and progression.
  • In a study on Zinc Therapy in Early Alzheimer’s Disease: Safety and Potential Therapeutic Efficacy “A subset of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or its prodromal form, known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), fail to maintain a normal copper metabolic balance and exhibit higher than normal values of non-ceruloplasmin copper. Zinc’s action mechanism involves the induction of intestinal cell metallothionein, which blocks copper absorption from the intestinal tract, thus restoring physiological levels of non-ceruloplasmin copper in the body…zinc effectively decreased non-ceruloplasmin copper levels and showed potential for improved cognitive performances with no major side effects. “
  • A study on Zinc and Copper in Alzheimer’s Disease stated “On the basis of available evidence, free copper toxicosis may play a causal role in age-related AD, and zinc therapy can be a rational causal treatment. “
  • A study on Zinc-mediated Neurotransmission in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Potential Role of the GPR39 in Dementia found A growing body of research shows that a G-protein coupled zinc (Zn2+) receptor (GPR39) can modulate: processes involved in the neurodegenerative cascade, such as excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, misfolded protein aggregation and/or ion dyshomeostasis “Zn2+itself has a diverse activity profile at the synapse, and by binding to numerous receptors, it plays an important role in neurotransmission. However, Zn2+ is also necessary for the formation of toxic oligomeric forms of amyloid beta, which underlie the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, the binding of Zn2+ by amyloid beta causes a disruption of zincergic signaling, and recent studies point to GPR39 and its intracellular targets being affected by amyloid pathology.”

16. Zinc and ADHD | Zinc Benefits

excerpts from The role of zinc in the treatment of hyperactivity disorder in children

“Zinc is an essential cofactor of more than 100 enzymes, including metalloenzymes and metalloenzyme complexes, which are necessary in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fatty acids, proteins and nucleic acids. It is an important factor in the metabolism of neurotransmitters, prostaglandins, and for maintaining brain structure and function. Dopamine is one of the most important factors in the pathophysiology of hyperactivity disorder, and the hormone melatonin has an important role in the regulation of dopamine. Because zinc is necessary in the metabolism of melatonin, it can be assumed that zinc is a very important factor in the treatment of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (essentially what it’s saying here is zinc effects melatonin, which effects dopamine, and dopamine is key in ADHD)”

  • Preliminary investigations in humans show that many children with ADHD have lower zinc concentration in relation to healthy children. 
  • Zinc sulfate as an adjunct to methylphenidate has favorable effects in the treatment of ADHD children.
  • Zinc supplementation to nutrition or to ADHD therapy may be of great benefit in ADHD children with zinc deficit or low plasma zinc concentration. 
  •  Zinc is a coenzyme of the enzyme delta-6 desaturase, which is important in the anabolism of polyunsaturated long chain fatty acids, linolic and linolenic acids that constitute neuronal membrane. 
  • A study of ADHD treatment with zinc sulfate as a supplement to methylphenidate showed beneficial effects of zinc supplementation in the treatment of children with ADHD. The dose of zinc sulfate used was 55 mg/day, which is equivalent to 15 mg zinc. 

17. Zinc and Depression | Zinc Benefits

Micronutrient deficiency and depression are major global health problems. Current Antidepressant therapy exhibits low clinical efficacy and produces a variety of unwanted side effects. Therefore, the search for more effective antidepressants including natural solutions, is vital.

Patients with depression may have decreased consumption of food sources rich in zinc, and zinc supplementation may have a potential influence on depressive symptoms.

“The literature most strongly supports a role for zinc deficiency in increasing the risk of depression as well as the mood-enhancing effects of zinc supplementation in populations both with and without depression

Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium and Depression: A Review of the Evidence, Potential Mechanisms and Implications

Depression and Diet

excerpts from Nutritional aspects of depression

“recent studies revealed new mediators of both energy homeostasis and mood changes (i.e. IGF-1, NPY, BDNF, ghrelin, leptin, CCK, GLP-1, AGE, glucose metabolism and microbiota) acting in gut brain circuits. In this context several healthy foods such as olive oil, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, poultry, dairy and unprocessed meat have been inversely associated with depression risk and even have been postulated to improve depressive symptoms. In contrast, unhealthy western dietary patterns including the consumption of sweetened beverage, refined food, fried food, processed meat, refined grain, and high fat diary, biscuits, snacking and pastries have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of depression in longitudinal studies… In this context, dietary and lifestyle interventions may be a desirable, effective, pragmatical and non-stigmatizing prevention and treatment strategy for depression.”

Other nutrients that help with depression

Additionally specific selected nutritional compounds, e.g. calcium, chromium, folate, PUFAs, vitamin D, B12, zinc, magnesium and D-serine have been postulated to be used as ad-on strategies in antidepressant treatment

  1. Vitamin D – “Vitamin D supplementation may be effective for reducing depressive symptoms in patients with clinically significant depression…” —Vitamin D supplementation for depressive symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
  2. Vitamin B12
  3. Magnesium – “clinical studies demonstrated equivocal results concerning its supplementary effectiveness in the treatment of depression. Generally, some depressed patients with hypomagnesemia responded very well to such supplementation”
  4. Cannabinoids – “The simultaneous modulation of the cannabinoid system and supplementation of magnesium or zinc produce at least additive antidepressant-like effect.” —CB 1 cannabinoid receptor ligands augment the antidepressant-like activity of biometals (magnesium and zinc) in the behavioural tests
  5. Calcium
  6. Chromium
  7. Folate
  8. PUFAs
  9. D-Serine

18. Zinc and Cancer Prevention | Zinc Benefits

“Many epidemiological studies have shown a relationship between the zinc content in the diet and the risk of cancer. The anti-cancer effect of zinc is most often associated with its antioxidant properties. However, this is just one of many possibilities, including the influence of zinc on the immune system, transcription factors, cell differentiation and proliferation, DNA and RNA synthesis and repair, enzyme activation or inhibition, the regulation of cellular signaling, and the stabilization of the cell structure and membranes” —Role of Zinc in Immune System and Anti-Cancer Defense Mechanisms

  • Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation have been implicated in development of many cancers. In patients with head and neck cancer, we have shown that nearly 65% of these patients were zinc deficient based on their cellular zinc concentrations….zinc status was a better indicator of tumor burden and stage of disease in comparison to the overall nutritional status. Zinc status also correlated with number of hospital admissions and incidences of infections….Zinc inhibits NF-kappa B via induction of A-20. NF-kappa B is constitutively activated in many cancer cells, and this results in activation of antiapoptotic genes, VEGF, cyclin DI, EGFR, MMP-9 and inflammatory cytokines. Thus, zinc supplementation should have beneficial effects on cancer by decreasing angiogenesis and induction of inflammatory cytokines while increasing apoptosis in cancer cells. Based on the above, we recommend further studies and propose that zinc should be utilized in the management and chemoprevention of cancer.Zinc in cancer prevention
  • In the study Role of Zinc in Immune System and Anti-Cancer Defense Mechanisms they stated
    • Zinc and Zinc Fingers“zinc performs very important functions in the cell by stabilizing zinc finger structures, playing an important role in the regulation of DNA replication and repair, transcription and translation, cell proliferation and maturation, and apoptosis [8,44].”
    • The Effect of Zinc on Genes “Genome integrity disorders, inefficient enzymatic DNA repair mechanisms, and the loss of mechanisms controlling DNA function associated with zinc deficiency may lead to an increased risk of cancer initiation and progression [153]. Many proteins that excise damaged bases or nucleotides have a zinc finger domain and are therefore zinc-dependent,”
    • Zinc and Apoptosis and Autophagy“zinc has been shown to have multi-directional activity in the initiation or inhibition of apoptosis through changes in its intracellular and extracellular concentration. By taking part in the regulation of apoptosis—the main mechanism of cell death in the body—zinc ensures the removal and destruction of mutant or damaged forms that can potentially lead to cancer [218]”
    • Zinc and Histone Deacetylases (HDACs)“To date, over 15 HDI compounds have been accepted as potential anti-cancer drugs, and 11 of these show a dependence on zinc ions [217].”
    • Zinc and Metallothioneins (MTs)“MT is induced as a result of many different stimuli, including the presence of metals, hormones, cytokines, oxidative stress, or inflammatory factors [181], but in most of them, the zinc ion plays an enormous role. Some functions of MT, such as its antioxidant, regenerative, angiogenic, and detoxifying activity can contribute to the development of cancer, while its anti-inflammatory activity can suppress cancer.”
    • Zinc and Antioxidant Processes and Enzymes – “Another mechanism by which zinc potentially inhibits tumor growth, while largely associated with its effect on the activity of the NF-κB transcription factor, is primary associated with its antioxidant properties….Zinc has potent antioxidant activity, primarily as a component of superoxide dismutase (SOD 1, SOD3), catalyzing the dismutation of superoxide anion radicals to hydrogen peroxide and thus preventing the generation of other toxic free radicals and their derivatives, e.g., hydroxyl or peroxynitrite radicals [154,155]. Given the function of SOD in the cells of the body, it seems that it may play a significant role in the pathology of cancer [156,157]”
    • Zinc and Zinc Transporters“The increased level of zinc induces the inhibition of NF-κB (activation of the MAPK cascade and blocking of the NF-κB–IKK complex). Therefore, ZIP8 is a regulator of the NF-κB negative feedback system, acting via the zinc-mediated inhibition of IKK in response to infection [130,131]. It is worth noting that zinc transporters from the ZIP family, although they perform a seemingly similar function, have thus far shown varied effects on the progression of some cancers in research. Some of them are associated with the progression of cancer; for example, membrane transporter ZIP10 promotes the metastasis of breast cancer cells to the lymph nodes. The use of a zinc-chelating compound has been shown to inhibit the migration of breast cancer cells of the invasive MDA-MB-231 line [132]. “
    • Zinc and Nuclear Transcription Factor Nf Kappa B (Nf-κB) “The initiation, promotion, and progression of tumors involves various signaling pathways with the participation of transcription factors such as nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) (induction), NF-κB (inhibition), and activator protein-1 (AP-1) (inhibition). A number of chemopreventive agents can induce or inhibit their action. Zinc influences gene expression at the level of the cell nucleus by stabilizing the structure and regulating various transcription factors, including NF-κB.”

19. Zinc and Cancer Treatment | Zinc Benefits

Zinc is gaining momentum as an important element for cancer therapy.

“One of the major effects of this store release of zinc is to inhibit a multitude of tyrosine phosphatases which will prevent the inactivation of tyrosine kinases and hence, encourage further activation of tyrosine kinasedependent signaling pathways. Most of these signaling pathways are not only known to be involved in driving aberrant cancer growth, they are usually the main driving force. All this data together now positions zinc and zinc signaling as potentially important new targets to prevent aggressive cancer growth.”

Targeting Zinc(II) Signalling to Prevent Cancer

Zinc and Prostate Cancer | Zinc Benefits

excerpts from Study Advances of Zinc Signaling Studies in Prostate Cancer

“Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the most common cancers and the second leading cause of cancer-related death among men worldwide, particularly in developed countries [1,2]. Despite progresses in early diagnosis and therapeutic strategies, prognosis for patients with advanced PCa remains poor. “

Zinc balance & supplementation

Its important to remember that an adequate zinc and zinc-copper balance is shown in studies to be essential for a healthy prostate, however long-term supplementation of zinc higher then the recommended daily limit can in fact contribute to the development of prostate cancer.

  • A review on Zinc and prostatic cancer stated

“multiple in vitro and in vivo studies demonstrated antitumor activities of zinc in PCa, including suppression of cell proliferation, induction of cell apoptosis and inhibition of metastatic processes, including EMT, migration, invasion, ECM interactions and angiogenesis (Figure 1). All these data strongly suggest that zinc is an intra- and intercellular signaling mediator and can serve as a bona fide tumor suppressor factor during prostate tumorigenesis. Due to the importance of zinc homeostasis to prostate health, zinc transporters, including ZIP1, ZIP2, ZIP3 and ZIP4, also exhibit tumor suppressive functions in PCa development and progression. Furthermore, zinc modulates the transcriptional activity of ZF-containing TFs, such as AR, PLZF and SP1, which regulate different signaling pathways in PCa. Finally, accumulating research data strongly suggest mobile zinc as an excellent candidate biomarker for clinical diagnose of PCa. More importantly, adding the analysis of a zinc signaling gene expression profile to traditional and modern clinical detection methods represents an effective and reliable strategy to more accurately diagnose PCa patients at early stages.”

“a unique feature of healthy prostate is its highest level of zinc content among all soft tissues in the human body, which dramatically decreases during prostate tumorigenesis.”

Advances of Zinc Signaling Studies in Prostate Cancer

“An overview of molecular signaling pathways mediated by zinc in PCa. Zinc is involved in various antiproliferative and proapoptotic pathways to exert its antitumor activities, including suppressing cell proliferation, inducing cell death and inhibiting metastasis.

Zinc-regulated molecules involved in proliferation, metastasis and cell death, as well as zinc transporters, are grouped and differentially colored. Black T bar: inhibiting function of zinc or proteins; Blue arrow: transporting zinc from cytoplasm to extracellular fluid; Purple arrow: transporting zinc from extracellular fluid into cytoplasm; Black arrow: activating function of zinc or proteins.”

“In the past decade, immunotherapy has proven to be an effective approach in the treatment of multiple cancer types, especially melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer [196,197,198]. For PCa, immunotherapies using immune checkpoint inhibition, PSA vaccines and dendritic cell-based strategies have been intensively tested in clinical trials [199]. Ample evidence demonstrated zinc’s contribution to the maintenance of host systemic immune system, and thus, its moderate levels could decrease inflammation and oxidative stress [200,201,202,203]. Generally, zinc at its physiological levels is essential to the growth, differentiation and biological function of various immune cells, including macrophages, dendritic cells, neutrophils, mast cells, T cells and B cells [204,205,206,207,208,209]. On the other hand, zinc deficiency leads to impaired immune response and an increased risk of inflammation and tumorigenesis [201,205,210]. Consistently, moderate zinc supplementation can restore or even improve host defense and reduce both morbidity and mortality of various diseases, including cancers [211,212,213]. Therefore, targeting zinc signaling to prevent immune escape of tumor cells and promote immune cells to eradicate cancers represents a logical and promising strategy in the treatments of PCa patients. “

  1. Zinc and its Anti-Proliferative Activities – Maintaining cell proliferation is the first step of cancer development [66].
    • Physiological levels of zinc could significantly inhibit LNCaP and PC-3 cell growth in a dose-dependent manner [68].
    • A recent study indicated that zinc could sensitize PC-3 cells to chemotherapeutic treatment by paclitaxel, a generic anticancer medicine [74]
    • Hacioglu et al. demonstrated an anti-proliferative effect of zinc sulphate on human PCa DU-145 cells in a dose-dependent manner [76]
    • Shah et al. found that direct intratumoral injection of zinc acetate to PCa tumors of a xenograft model could repress tumor growth and substantially extend the survival of the mice [81] The same authors observed that both zinc deficiency and higher levels of dietary zinc could increase tumor growth, whereas diet with optimal zinc levels could attenuate tumor development.
    • Gu et al. showed that a combined treatment of Pmp53, a plasmid containing both MDM2 small hairpin RNA and the wild type p53 gene, with zinc could markedly inhibit tumor growth through increasing p21 expression and inducing G1 arrest in tumor xenografts of PC-3 cells, as compared to the treatment group with only Pmp53 [83].
  2. Zinc and Cell Death – Resistance to cell death is an important characteristic of cancer cells [66]
    • Feng et al. employed an in vivo nude mouse model to demonstrate that zinc treatment could repress tumor growth through increasing the BAX/BCL2 ratio to induce apoptosis [89]
  3. Zinc and It’s Anti-Metastasis Effects – “Metastasis is the major cause of death in PCa patients [66]. The characteristics of canonical cancer metastasis include epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation (EMT), migration, invasion, extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions and angiogenesis [66,67]. First, the EMT is an early step of metastasis, in which epithelial cells lose cell–cell adhesion and acquire a spindle-like morphology with migratory and invasive capabilities [66,67]. As an intercellular adhesion molecule, intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1) plays an important role in cell–cell and cell–extracellular matrix interactions in the process of tumor invasion [100,101].”
    • An in vitro study by Uzzo et al. demonstrated that zinc sulphate treatment in PC-3 cells could reduce the expression of ICAM-1, as well as other angiogenic and metastatic factors, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), IL-8 and MMP-9 [71]. Aminopeptidase N (AP-N) can degrade collagen type IV to promote cell motility and adhesion to the extracellular matrix; therefore, it plays a critical role in tumor invasion [66,102,103].
    • Ishii et al. observed that AP-N extracted from human prostate could be irreversibly repressed by low concentrations of zinc [104]
    • “cancer cells need to acquire migratory and invasive capabilities [67]. Zinc could inhibit PCa cell migration and invasion. In a study using transwell cell culture chambers, high zinc concentration with bestatin could significantly suppress PC-3 cell invasion into Matrigel [104]. Another study from the same group demonstrated that zinc ions remarkably inhibited invasion of LNCaP cells [105]. Their study also revealed that zinc could inhibit the activity of PSA in cleaving ECM components and thus block its function in promoting PCa metastasis. Thus, their finding suggested that zinc could suppress PCa cell migration and invasion through inhibiting PSA activity.”
  4. Zinc-Associated Compounds and Their Functions in PCa – “evidence indicated a tumor suppressive role of zinc in PCa development and progression. This also suggested that proteins either regulating zinc homeostasis or using it as a functional ligand may also play vital roles in prostate malignant transformation. ”
    1. Zinc Transporters – “accumulating evidence suggests that aberrant expression of ZIP and ZnT family proteins is closely related to PCa development and progression [23,44,85]…results indicate that ZIP1, a major zinc uptake transporter, functions as a tumor suppressor in PCa, which is consistent with the anti-tumor activity of zinc discussed above.”
      • Ranklin et al. observed that ectopic ZIP1 expression remarkedly increased zinc uptake and accumulation in PC-3 cells, leading to retarded cell proliferation.
      • Golovine et al., ZIP1 overexpression could reduce the tumorigenic potential and growth of PCa cells through inhibiting the expression of NF-κB-dependent angiogenic and pro-metastatic cytokines both in vitro and in vivo [132]
    2. Zinc Finger-Containing Transcription Factors – “Deregulated levels and activities of TFs can alter the expression of cancer-related genes and consequently contribute to tumorigenesis [140,141,142,143]. With accurately regulated homeostasis by ZIPs and ZnTs in cells, zinc undertakes various biological functions through modulating the structures and functions of ZF-containing TFs. Zinc is a regulatory component of ZF proteins, which include a large number of TFs [144].”
      • “Aberrant expression and mutations of ZF-containing TFs may contribute to PCa initiation and development, suggesting an essential role of zinc in intracellular signaling…zinc is an essential structural component in ZF-containing TFs and required for their DNA binding activities. Therefore, altered zinc levels in blood and prostate glands are closed related to dysregulated function of ZF-containing proteins.
  5. Clinical Applications of Zinc Signaling in PCa – “Significantly decreased zinc levels during prostate malignancy implicated its activities in inhibiting proliferation and metastasis of tumor cells and inducing cell death, which led to the development of zinc or its related compounds in diagnostic and therapeutic applications of PCa. ”
    • Decreased intraprostatic zinc levels generally coincide with significantly reduced expression of the zinc transporters ZIP1, ZIP2, ZIP3 and ZIP4, which represents an early step in PCa development [23,39,41,128,129].
    • Zinc testing may contribute to PCa diagnosis – “PCa is the only known prostatic disease associated with a substantial decrease of zinc levels [45]; neither prostatitis nor BPH exhibit this phenomenon [41,191], suggesting that zinc serves as an excellent candidate biomarker for PCa…Recently, several groups developed in vivo imaging strategies to simultaneously probe zinc presence and detect PCa progression [40,41,58,193,194]. ”
      • Ghosh et al. employed a novel fluorescent zinc sensor ZPP1 that could precisely bind two zinc ions to monitor cell malignant transformation in the TRAMP model and observed tumor progression related to decreasing fluorescence intensity in an age-dependent manner. This study is the first report of using altered zinc levels as an innate imaging biomarker for early PCa detection [58,195]. Due to the limitations of optical imaging [41].
      • Jordan et al. discovered a zinc-binding gadolinium using a paramagnetic contrast agent and used it to detect extracellular zinc by proton MRI following glucose-stimulated zinc secretion. This strategy let them differentiate healthy versus malignant mouse prostates, which could provide a novel and highly specific approach for PCa diagnosis [40]
      • Yuan et al. used MRI based on 19F ion chemical exchange saturation transfer (iCEST) and TF-BAPTA as a fluorinated zinc probe, and was able to discriminate normal and malignant prostate cells with a 10-fold higher sensitivity than the method based on glucose-stimulated zinc secretion. The iCEST-MRI allowed them to observe over 300% gradual zinc decrease in the in vivo transition of normal PrECs to cancer cells [41].

Review of Zinc and prostatic cancer | Zinc Benefits

excerpts from Zinc and prostatic cancer

Zinc intake and the risk of prostate cancer

“Several large observational cohort studies have found that plasma zinc concentrations or dietary zinc intakes are inversely associated with cancer or all cause mortality risks [911]. Specifically for prostate cancer, a case-control study done by Kristal AR et al. observed that the usage of individual zinc supplements was associated with reduced prostate cancer risk [7].”

  • a study done in South Carolina found that area with lower soil zinc content had higher prostate cancer rate [13]
Zinc suppresses overall energy production in prostate cells

” Zinc depletion in the prostate may remove the inhibitory effects on citrate oxidation and terminal oxidation, and increase cellular respiration. Thus, decreases in cellular zinc levels in the prostate epithelial cell and subsequent release of aconitase activity could result in an elevated cell respiration that favors cell growth and differentiation, and enables these cells to manifest their malignant properties [5].”

Zinc imposes apoptogenic effects and suppresses tumor progression

“The effects of zinc on apoptosis in the prostate cancer cells may be exerted through the modulation of the expression of Bax and its binding with mitochondria membrane [22] and the subsequent releasing of cytochrome c from mitochondria [21].”

Zinc protects DNA integrity in the prostate

“The general functions of zinc in the maintenance of DNA integrity may be also very important for prostate health. Zinc depletion in cells including normal prostate epithelial cells (PrEC) increased DNA strand breaks [2426], and dietary zinc depletion also elevated DNA damage in rat testes or monkey livers [2728]. Our lab have recently shown that dietary zinc depletion (4mg/d for 6wk) in health men significantly increased DNA damage in peripheral blood cells, and zinc repletion (11mg/d, 4 wk) reversed the DNA damage back to the baseline levels (Song Y, Ho E, in press). “

Zinc transporter and prostate cancer

recent findings support the role of zinc transporters as tumor suppressors in the prostate.”

“a loss of function or dysregulation of certain zinc transporters would result in the impairment of zinc homeostasis and predispose prostate cells to the development of cancer. Dysregulation of zinc transporters including ZnT1, ZnT3, Zip1, Zip2 and Zip3 have been found to be associated with the low intracellular zinc content in human prostate cancer tissues or prostate epithelial cancer cell lines. hZIP1, hZIP2 and hZIP3 gene and/or protein expressions were downregulated in human prostate adenocarcinomatous glands and malignant cell lines [44]. In addition, tumorigenic human prostate epithelial cell lines (RWPE2) had decreased ZIP1 protein expression and redistributed intracellular ZIP3 in comparison with the non-tumorigenic human prostate epithelial cell line RWPE1 [4].”

Zinc and Breast Cancer | Zinc Benefits

Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women, comprising 16% of all female cancers worldwide. Contributing factors to breast cancer, may include nutritional deficiencies, with zinc deficiency and zinc transporters being heavily involved in the invasion, metastasis and malignant process of breast cancer cells. In addition, the application of toxic cosmetics, specifically aluminum antiperspirants which are often applied in that area can contribute to breast cancer development.

  • A meta-analysis of zinc levels in breast cancer stated “There is a significant relationship between lowered serum Zn concentrations and risk of breast cancer onset or recurrences in women
  • In a Study on Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer they stated “Clinical studies showing a disproportionately high incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast together with reports of genomic instability in outer quadrants of the breast provide supporting evidence for a role for locally applied cosmetic chemicals in the development of breast cancer. Aluminium is known to have a genotoxic profile, capable of causing both DNA alterations and epigenetic effects, and this would be consistent with a potential role in breast cancer if such effects occurred in breast cells
  • Taylar et al. performed experiments focusing on the relationship between Zn and therapeutic resistance with tamoxifen and demonstrated that ZIP7, the subfamily member with ZIP6, is abundantly expressed in tamoxifen-resistant MCF-7 breast cancer cells.32)

Zinc transporters and breast cancer study

A review of studies on Zinc Transporters and the Progression of Breast Cancers

“Recent studies have highlighted the role of Zn transporters and Zn in disease. ZIP6, 7, and 10 contribute to human breast cancer progression. ZIP6 is associated with breast tumor grade, size, and stage, suggesting that it is a potent driving force toward malignancy; ZIP7 plays an important role in tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells, and ZIP10 is involved in invasion and metastasis of breast cancer cells. These Zn transporters are key molecules in the malignant process”

  1. ZIPs in breast cancer cell progression – “About 70% of all breast cancers are estrogen-receptor positive. ZIP6 was first identified in a genetic screen of estrogen-responsive factors in breast cancer tissue15) and thus has been associated with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer and its subsequent spread to the regional lymph nodes.16,17) ZIP6 expression levels are downregulated in high-grade primary breast tumors.16,17) Moreover, high ZIP6 protein expression levels correlate with a longer relapse-free survival period in patients with breast cancer, suggesting that ZIP6 levels in primary breast tumors have the potential to be a poor prognostic factor in patients with breast cancer.16)
  2. ZIP10 in the Breast Cancer Invasion and Metastasis – “An association between ZIP10, the family member closest to ZIP6, and invasion and metastasis of human breast cancer cells was reported by Kagara et al
  3. Zinc and Zinc transporters in autophagic breast cancer cell death
    • The pathways controlling cell survival and death are likely to be advantageous therapeutic targets for breast cancer. Autophagy, in which autophagosomes form around misfolded proteins and damaged organelles to induce their degradation, is crucial for maintaining cell homeostasis and controlling cell death; it has also been implicated in the development and progression of breast cancer.35,36)
    • A study indicated that Zn is an essential contributor to autophagy through the Zn transporters ZIP4, ZIP14, ZIP8, ZnT10, ZnT4, and ZnT2 in endosomes, lysosomes, and autolysosomes.38,39)
    • Hwang et al. reported that intracellular labile Zn accumulates in autophagosomes and is required for autophagosome-mediated tamoxifen-induced death of MCF-7 cells.37)
  4. Zinc as a breast cancer biomarker (for early diagnosis) – “Previous studies have reported that breast cancer cells have high Zn levels compared with those in normal breast tissue, suggesting that Zn metabolism and the Zn network in or out of the cells differs according to the development and malignancy of breast cancer13,14) (Table 1). Zn has potential as a candidate biomarker for an early diagnosis of breast cancer.13)

Zinc and Pancreatic cancer | Zinc Benefits

“Pancreatic cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related mortality worldwide [13]. Of the ten leading types of cancer in the United States, pancreatic cancer has a morbidity of approximately 3%, while the total mortality due to pancreatic cancer is approximately 7% [3]…The pancreas is both an endocrine and an exocrine organ. Zinc is involved in a multitude of these processes within the pancreas including glucagon secretion, digestive enzyme activity, and insulin packaging, secretion, and signaling. As a result of this extensive physiological contribution, dysregulation of zinc metabolism may be associated with pancreatic cancer [5]”

Who is at risk for zinc deficiency?

It is known that zinc deficiency is a worldwide epidemic. An estimated 17.3% of the world’s population is at risk of inadequate zinc intake, according to a 2017 report 2 billion people worldwide including 30% of the elderly population are zinc deficient.

Those consuming fluoridated water and products are more susceptible to zinc deficiency due to fluorides ability to inhibit zinc absorption. Vegans and vegetarians are more susceptible to zinc deficiency due to the a high volume of zinc inhibitors in a plant based diet. Children and older people (Abbasi and Shetty, 1999) are particularly susceptible to zinc deficiency and it’s negative health effects.

  • In Australia more than one in three males (37%) and one in ten females (9%) have inadequate zinc intakes.
  • Depending on the country, 5-30% of children suffer from moderate zinc deficiency, responsible for small-for-age height (Favier et al, 1992).

Zinc is highest in animal foods such us oysters, liver, and pastured beef. Plant sources of zinc are not absorbed as easily, due to the presence of naturally found inhibitors (which means zinc in plants is less bioavailable). Vegans or vegetarians may need up to 50% more zinc than meat eaters.

Most legumes, seeds nuts and whole grains contain phytates aka inhibitors, that bind to zinc and make it harder for your body to absorb. So even if you eat lots of foods high in zinc, natural inhibitors are prevent you from absorbing most of that zinc. Sprouting beans, grains, nuts and seeds helps increase zinc bio-availability and reduces harmful lectins.

In old age your body’s ability to absorb and utilize zinc declines. Considering most diets already have inadequate zinc containing foods, it’s easy for the elderly to become zinc deficient. Zinc deficiency results in a weak immune system, more vulnerability to infections, sickness, and slower healing during recovery.

Gut and digestive disorders are known to decrease zinc absorption and increase loss of zinc from your intestinal tract, as well as from your kidneys.

High levels of zinc are required by a developing fetus and for lactation. When a woman becomes pregnant or begins lactating, if her zinc levels are already low, she is more likely to become zinc deficient.

  • In animals, studies on reproduction have shown a significant reduction in the number of alive newborns in a group of rats submitted to severe zinc deficiency, confirming that zinc is a very important trace element overall during pregnancy (Sole et al, 1995)
  •  In rhesus monkeys, marginal zinc deficiency during gestation and during the 1st yr of life was found to be associated with significantly delayed skeletal maturation and defective mineralization. This abnormality of bone mineralization suggests that zinc plays an important role in endochondral bone formation (Leek et al, 1984).
  • Findings in test animals show zinc deficiency induced a chronic immunosuppression that persisted through the third generation of their offspring (Beach et al, 1982). If this holds true for zinc-deprived humans, then humanity faces a grim future filled with disease.

6. Stress causes zinc deficiency

Emotional stress is one of the leading factors behind zinc deficiency! During periods of stress, your body reroutes zinc to your brain, organs, muscles and skin to assist in the repair of damage from stress.

Stress induces a physical reaction in the body! Your Central nervous system CNS signals your body to release stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) to rev up your heart beat. Stress affects your respiratory and cardiovascular systems, tells the liver to produce extra blood sugar, tells your muscles to tense up and protect themselves from injury. Stress can reduce testosterone in men, which ca cause erectile dysfunction or impotence, and can increase infection in the prostate or testes. Stress induces the immune system to work, which over time reduces your body’s immune response to foreign invaders, making you more susceptible to sickness. Through all the above actions your body takes to protect you from stress, zinc which is present in all your bodies tissues, is sent to support all of these systems activated by stress, contributing to a deficiency of zinc.

Constant stress can effect your adrenal health which leads to zinc, calcium and magnesium deficiency! Zinc helps your body to produce progesterone, aldosterone, and cortisol hormones which are essential for a healthy inflammatory response and general health.

Research by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D. suggests emotional stress can trigger or exacerbate oxidative stress, leading to problems including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Zinc is essential in helping your immune system reduce oxidative stress.

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms | Adverse Health Effects

  • Brain fog and decreased alertness
  • Frequent respiratory illnesses or other Intercurrent Infections
  • Poor appetite – Food doesn’t taste and smell as good as it used to
  • Mental lethargy
  • Growth retardationZinc deficiency restricts childhood growth and decreases resistance to infections according to the WHO. Recent global estimates indicate that over a quarter of children under 5 years of age are stunted as a result of zinc deficiency, and consequently are at an increased risk of dying and other adverse consequences throughout life. In animals fed a zinc-inadequate diet, both food intake and growth are reduced within 4–5 days.
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Hair loss
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Leaky gut and gastrointestinal complaints
  • Occasional moodiness and feeling blue
  • Impaired hearing
  • Reduced Libido (sexual desire)
  • Occasional loose stools or diarrhea
  • Increased food and environmental allergies
  • Rashes, skin changes and other dermatological manifestations

“Zinc is not a routine lab that is tested and many people could be at risk without knowing it. Even a slight deficiency can affect the immune system function.”

Zinc deficiency symptoms mimic conditions from other ailments, and are often misdiagnosed. If you have one or several of the signs of zinc deficiency, try a high-quality zinc supplement to see if it alleviates some of the symptoms. You may be one of the 1-in-3 people who are zinc deficient.

  • During a conference held in 1996 on zinc and child health Dr. M.K. Bhan of the All India Institute for Medical Sciences in New Delhi found that low plasma zinc levels were associated with an increase in infectious disease morbidity in children. 
  • Keith West of Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health showed that zinc deficiency may limit the impact of vitamin A intake on resistance to infection, child growth, and visual dark adaptation.
  • A scientific report Zinc Status in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection found Low plasma levels of zinc were observed in congenital diseases such as sickle cell anemia (Ballester et al. 1986), Down’s syndrome (Licastro et al. 1992) and acrodermatitis enteropathica. Zinc deficiency also is characterized by decreased thymulin activity and impaired lymphocyte response to phytohemagglutinin (Chandra 19801997). Zinc deficiency has been observed in acquired conditions, including malabsorption syndrome (McClain 1985), malnutrition (Keen 1990), cancer (Mocchegiani et al. 1994), alcoholism (Zarski et al. 1987), end-stage liver disease (Pescovitz et al. 1996), uremia (Mahajan et al. 1982) and chronic and acute infectious diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)3 type 1 (HIV-1) infection (Ripa and Ripa 1995)… 

Many common foods people eat regularly contain zinc including: beef, poultry, mushrooms, spinach, and pumpkin seeds…so why would anyone be zinc deficient?

Certain diets and health conditions can inhibit zinc absorption of foods in your diet. For example high plant based diets such as in the case of vegans and vegetarians, are high in zinc inhibitors (prevent your body absorbing and utilizing zinc). You can check the Zinc Value of foods you eat here on the Nutrition Value Calculator.

Zinc tests using plasma, serum urine or hair tests, may not always accurately measure your zinc status, due to zinc being found throughout your body as part of proteins and nucleic acids. If you have some of the symptoms of deficiency it may be worth trying a zinc supplement to see if it helps alleviate them.

Zinc is needed in small but critical concentrations and if the amount available is not adequate, plant and animal life will suffer from the physiological stresses brought about by the dysfunction of enzyme systems and metabolic functions in which zinc plays an important part. Zinc deficiency in soil is a world wide problem, mainly caused by chemical fertilizers. This is another reason why purchasing organic produce is all that more important to ensure chemical free soil and adequate soil nutrient levels.

Causes of zinc deficiency in food

Zinc deficiency in modern diets is attributed to the following main causes:

  1. Use of phosphate fertilizers with inhibit zinc uptake by growing plants
  2. Failure to maintain organic contents of agricultural soil which reduces zinc uptake
  3. Fluoride (in water, air, food and pharmacological drugs) reducing absorption of Zinc being ingested
  4. Failure to re-cycle (balance) zinc (and other essential trace elements) into soil
    • In Australia almost all soils are naturally zinc deficient.
    • A Government survey has revealed that the organic content in much U.K. arable farmland has fallen to about 2-4% in comparison with 10-20% for typical virgin grasslands. Slowly renewing natural resources like soil (and oil for that matter) are being ruthlessly exploited or adverse side effects, e.g. declining nutritional quality of food.

More about modern western diet malnutrition and why organic is better

The modern Western diet, with its excess of refined products such as sugar, alcohol and fats, often contains, per calorie, a deficiency of ENs such as zinc, selenium and vitamins A, B, C and E, which results in disturbed immune functions, a shifted Th1/Th2 balance, chronic (viral) infections, obesity, atherosclerosis, autoimmunity, allergies and cancer. In view of this, an optimization of dietary composition would seem to give the best chance of beating (viral) epidemics and common (chronic) diseases at a realistic price.

So soil levels of zinc and other key nutrients are at an all-time low, across the world due to farming practices. This means less nutrients in your food, in an already nutrition lacking western diet, which studies show can lead to diabetes, allergies, cancer, and a host of other diseases.

Studies show organic food contains higher levels of nutrients and less toxic pesticides, so eating a balanced diet consisting of organic foods, is the best way to combat a nutrient lacking diet. If you simply don’t get some key nutrients through food, supplements are an easy way to compliment your diet for nutrients you’re lacking.

Organic crops are exposed to higher levels of stress (such as insect attacks) and produce compounds, such as carrots creating polyacetylenes to repel the pest. These compounds add to the nutrient levels in the plant and benefit human health when the plant is consumed. In addition organic crops aren’t given nitrogen from synthetic fertilizer and instead rely on composting, which means they get less nitrogen, grow slower and produce more plant metabolites, another compounds which benefits humans when we eat them.

  • A huge new meta-analysis published this week in the British Journal of Nutrition adds to the evidence that organic production can boost key nutrients in foods. The study concludes that organic dairy and meat contain about 50 percent more omega-3 fatty acids, which is a result of animals foraging on grasses rich in omega-3s (vs artificial corn based diets), which then end up in dairy and meats. The findings are based on data pooled from more than 200 studies, and research in the U.S. has pointed to similar benefits.
  •  A large meta-analysis published in 2014, also in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that organic crops — ranging from carrots and broccoli to apples and blueberries — have substantially higher concentrations of a range of antioxidants and other potentially beneficial compounds.
  • A study of tomatoes conducted at the University of California, Davis back in 2008found that organic tomatoes have almost double the concentration of a beneficial flavonoid known as quercetin, compared with conventional tomatoes grown on an adjacent field.

My final recommendation is to compliment your daily diet with SMOOTHIES! You can pack a ton of nutrition into a daily smoothie, that takes only 5 minutes to make! Add a couple tbsp of powdered herbs like Ginger, turmeric, ashwagandha, moringa, turmeric or others to create a superfood smoothie that heals your whole body! If you can’t change your whole diet, a smoothie a day is a good way to get started.

Zinc Deficiency | other adverse health effects

  • Bacteria Growth in pneumonia
    • Brisbane Courier Mail page 15 – 12 Nov 2013. Zinc stops the streptococcus pneumonia bacteria ( pneumonia ) from taking up manganese, an essential metal it needs to cause disease
  • Mottled teeth
    • In a study investigating the prevalence of dental mottling in school-aged lifetime residents of 16 Texas communities (Butler et al, 1985).
    • Platelets from zinc-deficient rats take up significantly less external calcium. Low zinc status in rats impairs calcium uptake and aggregation of platelets  stimulated by fluoride. (Emery & O’Dell, 1991; 1993)
  • Mental disturbances
  • Short stature
  • Anaemia
  • Increased pigmentation of skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Mottled skin
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged spleen (hepatosplenomegaly)
  • Impaired gonadal function (male hypogonadism)
  • Immune deficiency
  • Miscarriages (reduction in number of newborns)
  • Cancer
    • Low levels of zinc are associated with advanced gastrointestinal cancer (Jia, 1991) – as is selenium, and lung cancer (Piccinini et al, 1996).
    • A study testing zinc and copper levels in erythrocytes, plasma, and whole blood in 35 various cancer patients, comparing to 24 normal individuals, found a decrease in zinc in all three blood constituents of the cancer patients (Aldor et al, 1982).

1. Zinc deficiency and thyroid disease

The TSH mediates iodine, zinc and selenium. Abnormal zinc metabolism occurs commonly in thyroid disease. Zinc levels in red blood cells are an important marker of peripheral tissue response to thyroid hormones indicating the duration of pre-existing thyroid disease. Zinc is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis in the liver (only 20% of T3 is manufactured in the thyroid itself, and the rest is created in peripheral tissue, chiefly the liver) and may play a role in thyroid hormone metabolism in “low T3” patients and conversion of T4 to T3 in humans.

“Considering that nuclear receptors for the steroid/thyroid superfamily (which are all G-protein-coupled) are also all zinc finger proteins, it is not surprising that zinc deficiency impairs the metabolism of thyroid hormones, and  growth hormones.”


The symptoms of zinc deficiency and hypothyroidism are identical. Thyroid modulates vitamin transport. After treatment for thyroid dysfunction, normalization of zinc in red blood cells occurs, lagging 3mnths behind plasma T4 & T3 levels and is evidence that Zinc deficiency is not caused by a nutritional lack of zinc, but is instead a result of improper thyroid function. This is also the case for many other nutritional deficiencies because of thyroid hormones function to modulate nutrient and vitamin transport.

3. Zinc deficiency and Child mental health

  • A new study on rats, published in the March 2000 issue of Brain Research, shows that a proper zinc supply to the brain is necessary for improvement and maintenance of learning ability. Synaptosomal zinc in the hippocampal formation and cerebral cortex was significantly decreased by 12 weeks of zinc deprivation. The results suggested that the decrease of vesicular zinc in the hippocampal formation and cerebral cortex is involved in the transient learning impairment of adults rats (Takeda et al, 2000).
  • One study showed Zinc deficiency caused an elevation in copper concentrations in most brain parts. Levels of calcium, manganese, sodium and potassium, in certain brain regions, also appeared to be altered by the zinc status of an animal. The levels of other metals were dependent on zinc nutriture. The data suggest the hypothesis that changes in brain metal content, associated with zinc deficiency, contribute to the behavioral abnormalities that occur. (Wallwork et al, 1983)

4. Zinc and down syndrome

All Down Syndrome patients have higher TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels (Licastro et al, 1992;1993) and hypothyroidism is the most common endocrinological deficit (Bucci et al, 1999). A close correlation was found between the plasma levels of zinc and changes in TSH in patients with chronic renal (kidney) failure.

  • In a study on children with Down Syndrome, ALL children had lower zinc levels than controls (Toledo et al, 1997)

A report in the PFPC Newsletter tolls the number of excess Down Syndrome births due to water fluoridation and several thousand cases annually throughout the world.

5. Zinc deficiency and Anorexia Nervosa

Through fluorides antagonism of Zinc, fluoride becomes a contributing factor in Anorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder also known as “slimmers disease”. Anorexia nervosa effects hundreds of thousands of patients (mostly girls) worldwide, and is viewed as a psychosocial “all in the mind” condition. Despite the fact that Psychiatric treatment is notoriously ineffective against anorexia nervosa, few have come to recognize recent studies which suggest the predominant factor is usually zinc deficiency.

The catalyst for anorexia nervosa may begin with social factors, such as the pervasive association of thinness with sexual attractiveness, but at some point the increased loss of zinc takes over in exacerbating the effects of reduced intake. Because as zinc deficiency kicks in impairment of taste and smell, and mental depression makes a bad situation worse.

6. Zinc deficiency, mental health and Crime

Zinc Deficiency can account for bad behavior and violence especially in men. The high incidence of zinc deficiency in assaultive young males was illustrated in a recent study which found elevated serum copper and depressed plasma zinc concentration, compared to normal controls. This study confirmed earlier clinical observations of zinc depletion in more than 4,000 behavior disordered patients (Walsh, 2000).

Other conditions Zinc is used to treat

  • Zinc is used for treatment and prevention of zinc deficiency and its consequences, including stunted growth and acute diarrhea in children, and slow wound healing.
  • Zinc is also used for boosting the immune system, treating the common cold and recurrent ear infections, and preventing lower respiratory infections.
  • Zinc is used for malaria and other diseases caused by parasites.
  • Some people use zinc for an eye disease called macular degeneration, for night blindness, and for cataracts.
  • It is also used for asthma; diabetes; high blood pressure; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); and skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne.
  • Other uses include treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), blunted sense of taste (hypogeusia), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), severe head injuries, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome, Hansen’s disease, ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcers and promoting weight gain in people with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.
  • Some people use zinc for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), male infertility, erectile dysfunction (ED), weak bones (osteoporosis), rheumatoid arthritis, and muscle cramps associated with liver disease.
  • It is also used for sickle cell disease and inherited disorders such as acrodermatitis enteropathica, thalassemia, and Wilson’s disease.
  • Some athletes use zinc for improving athletic performance and strength.
  • Zinc is also applied to the skin for treating acne, aging skin, herpes simplex infections, and to speed wound healing.
  • There is a zinc preparation that can be sprayed in the nostrils for treating the common cold.
  • Zinc sulfate is used in products for eye irritation.
  • Zinc citrate is used in toothpaste and mouthwash to prevent dental plaque formation and gingivitis.
  • Medical collaborators, Drs. R.I. D. Simpson and D. Latto have documented succes in easily curing anorexia nervosa together with various other neurotic, compulsive, or depressive mental states,by provision of 15-150 mg Zn [per day] (66-660 mg ZnSO 4 . 7H2O) in the majority of cases where zinc deficiency is diagnosed as a factor by the ‘taste test’ ♦. Improvement is often apparent within days or sometimes hours even in patients where the illness has been long standing.
  • 12 months after the first report in the Lancet of Ainc deficiency in anorexia nervosa, only one case of anorexia nervosa that failed to respond to zinc has been reported. Moreover, Dinsmore et al. have recently reported that patients with anorexia nervosa have an abnormality of zinc metabolism consistent with malabsorption from the gut.

Zinc, Copper and Selenium Synergy

Zinc and Copper

In plasma, zinc and copper are in a direct oppositional relationship. Zinc deficiency results in elevated blood levels of copper, due to the dynamic competition of these metals in the body. Zinc and copper compete for absorption in your gut. Dietary zinc deficiency also decreases plasma concentrations of vitamin E (Bunk et al, 1989). Taking a zinc supplement helps increase your zinc, but it can also reduce your copper, an important micronutrient.

Taking a zinc supplement without copper can easily contribute to a zinc-copper imbalance.

  • Elevated blood copper and decreased zinc levels have been associated with episodic violence, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, and depression in humans.

Zinc and Selenium

Discovered 200 years ago Selenium is a component of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme and powerful antioxidant. is an essential mineral for overall health. It benefits your cardiovascular, cognitive, and thyroid health. Selenium supports cell health by defending against and reducing free-radicals complimenting the cellular support of Zinc.

Zinc Overdose

If you’re not selenium deficient supplementing an additional 400-900mcg daily can cause mild toxicity. Only extremely high levels of selenium (well over 900 mcg daily) will cause symptoms like bad breath, fever, nausea and liver complications.

Get Tested

Selenium has one of the narrowest ranges between dietary deficiency and toxic levels. Blood tests only show the amount of selenium recently acquired while hair tests are inconsistent because selenium is stored differently throughout different organs and systems.

High selenium yeast

This is the more natural (non-GMO), full protein form which replicates the way plants absorb & transform minerals from the soil. This form provides methylselenocysteine and selenocysteine Vs the manufactured single amino acid form like selenomethionine which doesn’t. The yeast helps incorporate selenium into the protein structure, enhancing it’s antioxidant properties to fight oxidative stress/damage.

Selenium Benefits | Top Health Benefits

  • Increase Immunity
  • Antioxidant – Defends against free radical damage and inflammation
  • Healthy Metabolism
  • Antiviral effects
  • Fertility and Reproduction
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Autoimmune disorder prevention
  • Prevents Thyroid diseases
  • Heart Health
  • Cognitive Support
  • Cardiovascular Support (helps with asthma)

Who is at risk for Selenium deficiency?

Research suggest 1 in 17 people worldwide are selenium deficient. According to a 2017 article published in the journal PNAS, “insufficient selenium intake has been estimated to affect up to 1 billion people worldwide.” Selenium deficiency risk is also predicted to increase under future climate change.

If you live in a region with high soil levels of selenium and eat local (grown and pastured) food you may have adequate selenium levels. Realistically most people buy meat from the grocery store and often that meat is not local. In If you are older, or have a poor diet, you are very likely selenium deficient.

  • Regions with low soil-selenium levels – Regions like The Great lakes, Parts of the Atlantic Coast, SE US, SW US, Texas, Pacific NW mountain states, Western Canada, many parts of Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, and China.
  • Pre-existing health conditions – such as HIV, Crohn’s disease, Colitis, Liver cirrhosis, Kashin-Beck disease and anyone undergoing kidney dialysis.
  • Poor Gastrointestinal Health – Anyone with disorders that impair nutrient absorption and are at greater risk of having low selenium levels, in addition to many others.

Selenium Deficiency Symptoms

  1. Above average hair-loss (including on lets and underarms)
  2. Weak, brittle nails and White fingernail beds vs normal skin color)
  3. Reproductive or fertility issues
  4. Feeling tired, lethargic or low energy either physically or mentally
  5. Brain fog, Confusion, difficulty with Memory and ability to focus
  6. Thyroid dysfunction / Underactive thyroid symptoms
  7. Mood issues, depressed mood, anxiety and hostile behaviors
  8. Frequently getting sick
  9. Muscle weakness

Foods high in selenium

Some of the top selenium foods are: Brazil nuts, eggs, liver, tuna, cod and other fish, sunflower seeds and chia seeds, poultry, certain types of meat, barley, and mushrooms. Keep in mind selenium may be destroyed during processing and high-head cooking. There are also selenium fortified versions of meat, eggs and milk products.


This article is provided for informational and educational purposes only. This is not medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The site and its services are not a substitute for professional medical advice and treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor before making any changes to your diet, health routine or treatment. 

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