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ZINC

 

Zinc is the healing mineral with the atomic number of 30 and is part of the enzymes that helps the body to metabolise protein, carbohydrates and alcohol. It also aids in building bones and healing wounds.

There are about two grams of zinc in the body where it is highly concentrated in the hair, skin, eyes, nails and testes. Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis. It is also a constituent of many enzymes involved in metabolism.

The human body's need for zinc is small but its role in growth and well-being is enormous and starts before birth. It is vital for healthy skin and hair, proper healing of wounds, successful pregnancies and male virility. It plays a essential role in guarding against diseases and infection and is also needed to transport vitamin A to the retina so is very important for eye health.

There are 156 enzymes that require zinc for their functioning and healthy growth and sexual maturity are just two of the many functions that depend upon zinc. Copper, together with zinc improves the absorption of vitamin D, the vitamin which aids in the absorption of calcium.

Zinc has been shown in recent studies to be especially useful in treating the common cold by making recovery quicker.

Zinc deficiency

Zinc deficiency can result in alopecia (hair loss), depression, delayed wound healing, diarrhoea, frequent infection. growth retardation, impaired immunity, impaired senses, impotence, infertility, loss of hair, night blindness, photophobia, poor appetite, scaly skin inflammation, skin diseases and weight loss. Those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may have a zinc deficiency.

Those drinking excess alcohol have low levels of zinc because alcohol decreases zinc absorption and increases urinary secretion of zinc. Diuretic medications also adversely affect zinc levels. If an individual ingests excessive amounts of caffeine, drugs or sugar, it is more than likely that a zinc deficiency will develop. Low zinc levels can cause liver deterioration and diminished functioning of the reproductive organs, immune system and skin.

Cadmium found in some foods and ingested through smoking tobacco displaces zinc in the body and can lead to a deficiency. .

A developing foetus requires a high amount of zinc, likewise, there is a high amount of zinc lost through breast milk after birth therefore pregnant and breast feeding women may need to consume extra zinc rich foods. Infants older than six months should eat age-appropriate foods which provide zinc as the amount in breast milk is no longer ample. See Nature Cures for babies

Gastrointestinal surgery, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, short bowel syndrome and other digestive diseases can all decrease zinc absorption and increase zinc loss from the body. For unknown reasons 44% of children and 60-70% of adults with sickle cell disease have low levels of zinc.

Iron can interfere with zinc absorption and therefore, if iron supplements are absolutely necessary, they should be taken alone between meals. Too much phosphorous can cause diarrhoea and calcification (hardening) of organs and soft tissue and can interfere with the body's ability to use iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It is a matter of getting the balance right which is why supplementation is not advised.

Foods that contain these minerals will never overdose the consumer with phosphorous. Zinc supplements are not advised as they can upset the balance of other minerals in the body, for instance, excessive absorption of zinc can suppress copper and iron absorption.

 

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Highest sources of zinc in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Oysters 78.6 mg

  • Chlorella 71 mg

  • Wheat germ 16.7 mg

  • Beef 12.3 mg

  • Calf's liver 11.9 mg

  • Hemp seeds 11.5 mg

  • Pumpkin and squash seeds 10.3 mg

  • Sesame and watermelon seeds 10.2 mg

  • Bamboo shoots, endives and gourds 9 mg

  • Chervil (herb) 8.8 mg

  • Lamb 8.7 mg

  • Venison 8.6 mg

  • Alfalfa seeds (sprouted), amaranth leaves, Crimini mushrooms, Irish moss and tea 8 mg

  • Crab 7.6 mg

  • Lobster 7.3 mg

  • Agave, basil, broccoli, buffalo, elk, emu, oats, ostrich, spinach and turkey 7 mg

  • Cocoa powder 6.8 mg

  • Cashew nuts 5.8 mg

  • Asparagus, chicken livers, laver seaweed, mushrooms, parsley and rice bran 5.7 mg

  • Cashew nuts 5.6 mg

  • Pork 5.1 mg

  • Jute (herb), lemon grass, mung beans, Portobello mushrooms, radishes and shiitake mushrooms 5 mg

  • Agar seaweed, butterbur, cauliflower, chicory, Chinese cabbage, chives, coriander, green beans, lentils, lettuce, okra, rocket, spring onions, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes and wasabi (yellow) 3.4 mg

  • Peanuts 3.3 mg

  • Cheddar cheese 3.1 mg

  • Mozzarella cheese 2.9 mg

  • Anchovies and rabbit 2.4 mg

  • Cabbage, cucumber, jalapeno peppers, , kidney beans, navy beans, spirulina and turnip greens 2 mg

  • Mussels 1.6 mg

  • Arrowroot, artichokes (globe), beetroot, bell peppers, black eyed peas, borage, broad beans, Brussel sprouts, butter beans, cabbage, carrots, celery, chilli peppers, courgettes, dandelion greens, garlic, horseradish, kale, kelp, mustard greens, peas, pinto beans, potatoes, pumpkin, turnips, Swede, sweet potato, tomatoes (red),  wakame (seaweed), watercress and winged beans 1.2 mg

Recommended daily requirement

The recommended dietary allowance of zinc is approximately 15 mg daily for an adult. It is important to never exceed 100 mg of zinc per day from all sources.

Natural sources of zinc in alphabetical order

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"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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