An essential trace mineral, zinc is found in every tissue in the body and plays a role in over 300 metabolic reactions. Vital for countless functions, this extremely powerful antioxidant is especially helpful for supporting immune functioning, reducing inflammation, repairing DNA, preventing disease, balancing hormones, stabilizing blood sugar levels, preventing diabetes, treating ADHD, elevating mood, improving memory, increasing strength, eliminating acne, speeding wound healing, and preventing many different types of cancer (prostate, breast, ovarian, skin, and lung). It’s absolutely crucial for male and female reproductive health.
As you can see, it’s imperative to get adequate zinc to improve ALL areas of your health.
Reader’s Question: How do I know if I’m getting enough zinc?
Cate’s Answer: Check out the Deficiency Symptoms and “Who’s at Risk,” then test yourself (below).
- Impaired sense of taste or smell leading to cravings for sweet and/or salty foods.
- Hormones imbalances such as infertility, low sex drive, low testosterone levels, chronic fatigue, hair loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and growth failure in children.
- Weakened immune system that leads to frequent colds and infections, acne, and slow wound healing.
- Inflammation throughout the body that shows as joint pain or stiffness, bloating, digestive issues, etc.
- Decreased brain functioning such as bad memory, ADHD symptoms, and depression.
- Poor digestive health, including consistent diarrhea, leaky gut, food sensitivities, and food allergies.
- Click here to take Dr. Hyman’s zinc deficiency quiz!
Who’s at Risk For Zinc Deficiency?
Everyone, but especially…
- Pregnant women (essential for fetus development).
- Those eating a diet high in processed and refined foods.
- Those eating a diet rich in grains, legumes and other phytate-rich foods, such as vegetarians.
- Those with gastrointestinal disease or poor digestive health, especially low stomach acid (HCL) levels.
- People taking medications, especially diuretics (can deplete mineral levels).
- Woman taking birth control pills or on hormone replacement therapy.
- Endurance athletes.
- The elderly.
Testing Zinc Levels
To ensure your zinc is in an optimal range, it’s best to perform a zinc test. If your levels are low, then increase your intake of zinc-rich foods (listed below) and consult with your health professional for determining if supplementation is needed. Although this test is not 100 percent accurate, it’s a good place to start. It’s important to test every 2 months to adjust supplementation accordingly. Too much zinc can lead to anemia, copper deficiency, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Directions: Hold 2 teaspoons of liquid zinc sulfate in your mouth for 30 seconds. If it…
- Tastes like water… you’re very zinc deficient.
- Tastes slightly metallic… you’re moderately zinc deficient.
- Tastes strongly metallic and disgusting… you’re probably not deficient.
Including Zinc in Your Daily Diet
Aim for 2-3 servings of these zinc-rich foods daily: oysters, liver, beef, lamb, yogurt, kefir, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, cashews, Brazil nuts, flax seeds, chicken, mushrooms, spinach, sea vegetables, and green peas.