Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for February 23, 2007


Zinc

© Elson M. Haas M.D.
(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine Published by Celestial Arts)

In evaluating body zinc status, plasma or serum zinc levels may not reflect body stores; however, if they are low, zinc is likely deficient. Low hair levels appear to reflect zinc deficiency, which then should be substantiated through a blood test. High hair zinc levels may also be seen with zinc deficiency, though this is not as correlative as low hair levels. In general, the red blood cell (or white blood cell) measurement of zinc may be most indicative of the body’s true status of zinc nutriture.

Whole grains such as whole wheat, rye, and oats are rich in zinc and are good sources for vegetarians. Even though the mineral from these foods is utilized less well because the fiber and phytates in the grain covering bind some zinc in the gastrointestinal tract, much of the zinc in these foods is still available to the body. Nuts are fairly good sources, with pecans and Brazil nuts the highest. Pumpkin seeds contain zinc and are thought to be helpful to the prostate gland. Ginger root is a good zinc source, as are mustard, chili powder, and black pepper. In general, fruits and vegetables are not good zinc sources, although peas, carrots, beets, and cabbage contain some zinc.

Deficiency and toxicity: Zinc is fairly nontoxic, especially in amounts of less than 100-150 mg. of elemental zinc daily, though this much zinc is probably not really needed and may interfere with the assimilation of other minerals. Zinc salts such as gluconate or sulfate are commonly available in 220 mg. tablets or capsules, each providing 55 mg. of elemental zinc. Taking one of these two or three times daily may cause some gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, or diarrhea but is more likely to have positive effects. Excessive supplementation may cause some immune suppression, premature heartbeats, dizziness, drowsiness, increased sweating, muscular incoordination, alcohol intolerance, hallucinations, and anemia, some of which is due to copper deficiency. More than 2 grams of zinc taken in one dose will usually produce vomiting. If not, it will likely lead to other symptoms until the body clears the excess zinc. Luckily, only a certain amount of it will be absorbed.

Zinc may interfere with copper absorption, so taking regular zinc supplements without copper can cause copper deficiency. This will interfere with iron metabolism and possibly cause anemia, as copper and iron are important in red blood cell formation. We usually need supplemental copper and vitamin A to balance the effect of extra zinc. Some formulas, for example, Nutrilite’s product, A plus Zinc, contain vitamin A and zinc together, which improves the effect of both; additional copper, about 2 mg., might also be supplemented daily, though at another time than the zinc.

The subject of our diet and zinc deficiency is an important one. The all-too-typical advanced technology, antinature diet that is high in refined grains, fat, sugar, convenience foods, and fried meats, is often low in zinc and many other important trace minerals and B vitamins.

Requirements: The RDA for zinc in adults is 15 mg., with additional amounts needed during pregnancy and lactation. Yet the average diet contains only about 10 mg. of zinc. And when zinc needs are considered, we likely need even more than 15 mg. per day to be sure we are meeting our requirements. Adequate amounts can be met by a good diet, especially with good protein and calorie intake. Vegetarians can eat more whole grains; even with some of the zinc binding to grain phytate, we still get a fair share into our body from these zinc-rich foods. Since absorption is about 30-40 percent, our total zinc body tissue needs are about 4-6 mg. per day.

We probably need 15-30 mg. of available (elemental) zinc daily for maintenance and probably about 30-60 mg. for treatment, though more is sometimes used. Fifteen mg. of zinc is often included in general supplement formulas. Separately, zinc gluconate and sulfate in reasonable amounts are used commonly without any side effects, though zinc gluconate is usually a little better tolerated than zinc sulfate. The amino-acid-chelated zinc is probably the best tolerated and absorbed though it is more expensive. Zinc sulfate tablets or capsules of 220 mg. provide 55 mg. of elemental zinc. A supplement labeled “zinc 25 mg. as gluconate” should provide 25 mg. elemental zinc. In medical treatment or research, zinc sulfate 220 mg. may be used two to three times daily, supplying about 100-150 mg. of available zinc for absorption. This dosage is usually tolerated fairly well.

Although 30-60 mg. of elemental zinc per day is the usual therapeutic level, more may be needed to correct zinc deficiency. Taking zinc alone two hours after meals or first thing in the morning will increase absorption by reducing the competition with other nutrients, such as calcium and copper, or food constituents such as the phytates and fibers in grains. With infections, burns, before or after surgery, in pregnancy, or with aging (often accompanied with lower absorption), 50-75 mg. per day is suggested as a therapeutic dose.

When taking higher amounts of zinc, we must make sure we get adequate amounts of copper-at least 2-3 mg. supplemented, and possibly more with higher zinc intakes-so copper deficiency does not occur. The suggested zinc to copper ratio is about 15:1. About 200 mcg. per day of selenium should also be taken, to prevent depletion by supplemental zinc. Zinc may be taken with magnesium, vitamin C, and B complex vitamins, but it is best to take a regular vitamin-mineral combination with 15-30 mg. of zinc in proper proportion to other minerals, so that deficiencies of zinc or imbalances of the other minerals do not occur.

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February 25, 2007 - Posted by | Health |

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