s4 e6: zinc deep dive

Zinc Deep Dive

It’s time for our mineral deep dive on zinc! Another popular mineral, right up there with magnesium, but often misunderstood and supplemented with blindly. In this episode, I cover what zinc does in the body, go through the RDA, and dig into how zinc impacts many aspects of our health like gut health, hormones, blood sugar, and thyroid function. In this week’s bonus episode on Patreon, I cover the relationship between zinc and copper as well as other minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. I also answer the common question of when someone should supplement with zinc and go through options for that as well as provide a list of zinc rich foods and a sample day of someone getting 39mg of zinc from their diet. Go to patreon.com/hormonehealingrd to join patreon and get access to bonus content!

Quick reminder, this podcast is for informational purposes only. Please talk with your healthcare provider before making any nutrition or lifestyle changes. 

This episode covers:

  • The function of zinc in our body {3:17}
  • Signs of zinc deficiency, with associated diseases and conditions {12:20}
  • Zinc and your gut health {23:54}
  • Zinc deficiency and the immune system {35:21}
  • How zinc affects sex hormones, for both men and women {40:53}
  • Zinc deficiency effects on blood sugar {48:41}
  • Thyroid function and zinc absorption {50:53}

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Free Resources:
Mineral Imbalance Quiz
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Episodes mentioned:
Calcium deep dive
Magnesium deep dive
Sodium deep dive
Potassium deep dive


Basic Zinc knowledge:

Digestion, Gut Health, Immune System:

Mineral Interactions:

Zinc RDA and Deficiency:

Zinc and Hormones:

Zinc and Blood Sugar:

Zinc and Thyroid:

Zinc sunscreen: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20705894/#:~:text=Small%20amounts%20of%20zinc%20from,are%20absorbed%20through%20human%20skin 

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It is time for our mineral deep dive on zinc. Another popular mineral I would say zinc is like when I think of zinc, I feel like it’s just as popular as magnesium. A lot of people are aware that zinc is an important nutrient for their health, but it is often misunderstood and supplemented with blindly and I will talk about more about that in the episode. But I’m gonna go through just like all my other mineral deep dives, we’ll talk about what zinc does in the body. I’m gonna go through the RDA. And then housing impacts like different aspects of our health. So I’ll talk about gut health quite a bit, we’ll go into digestion, our mucosal lining, especially like our stomach, and then our immune system, and then I’ll talk about hormones. Specifically, there’s some cool stuff for male and female fertility, blood sugar, and then thyroid function. And in the bonus episode, for this week, I focus on housing interacts with other minerals like copper, how potassium, magnesium, calcium can impact sync, and then I go through zinc supplements. 


And because it’s probably the most common question I got, from Instagram, when I put that question box up, people were like, how do you know when you should supplement with zinc. So I’m going to go through like, here’s different scenarios where it may be appropriate, here’s things you want to test for, or consider if you do decide to supplement. And then different things. I did a breakdown of like different zinc supplement options, and what they could be good for. And then I of course, like I’ve been doing this with every mineral deep dive is having a list of zinc rich foods, and then showing you how to get a lot of zinc from food in a day, so I’d like a sample day of someone getting 39 milligrams of zinc just from their diet. And if you want access to all this bonus content, you can just go to patreon.com/hormone Healing rd, and you’ll get the episode and all the resources. 


Quick reminder before we get into the functions of zinc. This podcast is for informational purposes only. So make sure you talk with your health care provider before you make any nutrition lifestyle or supplement changes. That’s definitely not what the episodes for the goals just nerd out and hopefully teach you something that you did not know about this mineral. Alright, let’s get into the functions of zinc. I think when I think of zinc and like a lot of the questions people ask me around it. A lot of it’s related to immune system function. I feel like that’s what a lot of people know zinc for. And when I did a question box in my stories, people were most of the questions were like, is it okay to take zinc if you’re sick or to prevent an illness. And zinc is very important for our immune system health. I’m gonna talk about this towards the end of the episode, but we also need it for a lot of other things in the body. So I just thought it was interesting that you know, it was mostly known for immune system health, but it’s actually really important for our hair, skin, and nail health and our health of our vision. And our eyes. Zinc actually plays a really important role in bringing vitamin A from the liver, where we store it to the retina in order to produce melanin and then that melanin is it’s a protective pigment in our eyes. And if we have impaired vision, like say, we have really bad night vision or if someone has cloudy cataracts, those are often very clear signs of zinc deficiency. So think is very important for hair, skin, nail and eye health. We need it for testosterone and in progesterone production. 


We need zinc in order to ovulate as women it’s also important for like the development of the egg and making sure that it’s healthy and optimal. And we also need it for testosterone production for men and for women. But I have a lot of cool information around zinc and testosterone that we’ll get into and people are always asking me for more men’s health stuff. So hopefully you guys enjoy that. It’s important for melatonin in order for us to make enough melatonin. And I think a lot of people think of like sleeping well and staying asleep when it comes to melatonin which is yes 100% But it is also a really important antioxidant in the body. So it’s not especially for fertility so it’s not just you know it’s tough for optimal sleep is also to protect our body from oxidative stress like inflammation. We need zinc for thyroid hormone production, it’s really important for converting T four to T three. 


And supplementing with zinc has actually been shown to improve thyroid hormone conversion. But if we have too much, taking an excessive amount of zinc supplements can actually cause hyperthyroidism. So we don’t want to you know, just like we don’t want to overdo any mineral is important for protein synthesis. So it’s really important for growth and development. This also comes into play with pregnancy. It’s really important for the development of the placenta and the baby. We need it for bone integrity. We need it for normal skeletal growth but also Keep bone homeostasis in balance, just keeping that breakdown and buildup in a good place. So you know, we talked a lot about this in the calcium episode. So make sure you listen to that if you’re interested in specifically bone health, but zinc, what does surprise me sake is also important for bone health along with magnesium, potassium, so many other minerals, we need zinc for insulin production secretion, I mean, I feel like pretty much all the minerals I’ve talked about so far, calcium, magnesium, for sure, are really important for making and releasing insulin from the beta cells, but so is zinc. And then sodium is important for getting that, you know, glucose inside the cell. But pretty much all minerals are important for blood sugar balance, but zinc is another one that we need for insulin production secretion. And then it’s important to remember that that supports mineral absorption. Like if we’re struggling with insulin resistance, we can have a hard time getting nutrients as well as micronutrients, like minerals inside the cell. And then of course, for digestive health, and overall gut health, we needed to make digestive enzymes in bile, which helps us break down and absorb our food properly, it helps activate stomach acid, and it’s a really important for our immune system. So zinc does a lot of different things in the body. And remember, the way that minerals work is they act as like Spark Plugs like cofactors. So zinc is helping all these different processes carry out because it helps activate an enzyme for that process. So very important. If we do not have adequate zinc, our body’s going to compensate in different ways in order to try to carry those out anyway, and keep us alive and healthy. 


So zinc is super important. The interesting thing when it comes to zinc, and like the recommended daily allowance, like the RDA for zinc, and how much we should be taking in is we didn’t even recognize zinc as being essential for humans until 1963. In the United States, which I’m like, it’s crazy, because now I feel like people are obsessed with zinc. And I’m like, it’s kind of wild to think that happens so quickly. St. Copper was like right around that time, too. So minerals, like we just weren’t fully sure like just of the importance yet. And if they were actually essential. It was really the persistent research of a Nanda Prasad, who brought this attention and focus on zinc and how essential it is to the United States. And when the US decided, like, Hey, we’re seeing all this research around zinc, how it is a common deficiency and other places how it is essential for health because a lot of Dr. Prasad, research was around hypogonadism and men and having zinc deficiencies. And so this is kind of where the testosterone piece comes in. But I’ll get into like way more detail later. And the it caught the attention of a lot of different countries and scientists and so when the US was like, Okay, this is an essential nutrient. How much should we recommend people have each day like what should the RDA B, they reached out to Dr. Prasad to help them set the RDA and his recommendation was 15 milligrams per day for men. I actually don’t know what it was for women, because in his all his like documentation about this, he only mentions the min one. I’m assuming it was probably within like two milligrams, so probably like 13, like 12 or 13 milligrams for women. That became the RDA in the US in the 1980s. It has since been lowered, just like sodium and potassium. I remember we talked about that, when I was talking about those minerals in the deep dives, that they actually lowered the RDA, which is interesting. 


And I think a lot of this is it’s not it’s more just so that people can actually reach it. You know, even though wool I mean, zinc is not hard to get from food. That’s why I’m kind of like zinc supplement needs to be like absolutely essential for me to like recommend it to someone because it is really use it. It’s in a lot of animal foods, and plant foods so easily more easily absorbed from animal foods, but you can get a lot of zinc from foods. So it’s interesting to me that they lower this probably because they don’t often recommend like they recommend limiting red meat intake, unfortunately, and red meats an amazing source of zinc. So 15 milligrams per day was what it was, it was lowered to 11 milligrams for men and then eight milligrams for women. It does increase to 11 milligrams for pregnancy and then 13 milligrams for lactation. Which is interesting because for pregnancy, it’s so so important for the development of the placenta that I’m surprised it’s not just as high as lactation.


And I mean, there’s been some studies around like using zinc postpartum for mental health and avoiding postpartum depression and stuff, but I feel like it’s just as important for pregnancy but those are the RDA is currently and like a lot of other minerals, I mean, we just don’t take zinc deficiency seriously. I feel like it has to the only mineral I feel like we talk about as It’s widely accepted as a deficiency in the US as iron. Honestly, a lot of times or calcium, I feel like calcium supplements are recommended a lot. But I think because like we are such a, I don’t know, I don’t want to say well fed because we’re not as a whole eating like super healthy foods in this country. And not everyone has access to food. But I think just like the obesity issues that so many people struggle with, and the access to food that we have, like fast food, just food constantly at our fingertips. But it really does depend on where you live, because some places like don’t have a grocery store nearby. So it depends on what part of the US you’re in. But zinc deficiency isn’t really taken seriously in the US. But Dr. Prasad, he actually found that 30% of the elderly population is deficient in zinc, and at least 12% of the general population is at risk for zinc deficiency. And I mean, that’s a lot of people 12% It’s, it’s likely way higher. For me, like when I think of a zinc deficiency, I just think of like, who has had like a ton of chronic stressors in the past? And like, what other supplements has someone taken their whole life? How was their mom’s health? How was their mom’s zinc status, because, you know, you’re gonna pass down your micronutrient status to your baby. So that is something that I feel like we have to take into consideration, I see zinc deficiency a lot. 


And half the time, it’s just because inflammation is present. But a lot of is because people aren’t getting enough in their diet, or they can’t break down and absorb the foods that do contain zinc properly. So I do think that zinc deficiency is a much larger issue. I just think, you know, addressing it is in a sound and not like, Oh, we’re just going to take things supplements is really important for maintaining someone’s overall health. The American Academy of Family Physicians, they have a lot of great information about zinc, and they talk about how it’s like very hard to get an accurate blood measurement of zinc and like understand someone’s zinc status, so they really recommend going by someone’s like signs of deficiency and a bunch of the ones that they have listed for absolute zinc deficiency.


 So signs that it’s like most likely for sure a zinc deficiency. You know LapBand is probably not going to be as severe as if you’re actually having you know your intestines altered. excess iron supplementation is another big one heme iron from food does not reduce it though i Whenever like I say like something about supplementation people often think oh, do I need the iron rich foods away from zinc rich foods, I would say that’s actually impossible, because most iron rich foods are also really high in zinc. So definitely don’t worry about that it’s more iron supplementation, it can inhibit the absorption of zinc. But zinc taking too much too many zinc supplements are too high a dose of zinc, it’s like over 25 milligrams a day of zinc can actually inhibit iron absorption as well. But we need enough zinc for iron zinc is very important for iron helps us absorb it from its from our intestinal cells. So it’s one of those where it’s like if we take too much iron, we’re gonna have a hard time getting enough zinc. And if we take too much zinc, we can have a hard time absorbing iron again, why we like to focus on food, excess calcium supplementation can actually inhibit the absorption of iron and zinc. And then certain medications. So antibiotics, certain diuretics, PPIs, proton pump inhibitors, people are taking for things like reflux, ACE inhibitors, for things like blood pressure. And I just want to state because I feel like zinc is different than a lot of other minerals. And like, we don’t store a ton of it in the body, like 57% of zinc is in our muscle in our bone. And there’s no other storage site for zinc. So we have some like in our brain and our hippocampus. But we need to get it on a regular basis, because we’re not storing it in the body. It’s not like iron ore. 95% of iron is stored in the body, even copper we can store in the body. So it’s in calcium, obviously, it’s mostly in our bones and teeth. So we’re not storing a ton. We need to get it from our diet on a regular basis. I would even say like daily basis in order to replenish our stores. And I actually got like a lot of people asking about like copper rich foods, because obviously, you know, I’ve talked a lot about copper, the benefits eating copper rich foods like beef liver that also has a lot of vitamin A in it. And they’re like, should I supplement with zinc if I’m adding in a lot of copper rich foods, because zinc and copper can be antagonists? And I think that is a really good question. But beef liver actually has a lot of zinc. 


So I would say if someone were supplementing with just copper, like maybe but copper supplements don’t affect sink status, like zinc supplements affect copper. So like zinc supplements can deplete copper and cause a copper deficiency. But copper supplements don’t deplete things. So that I think that’s an important thing to kind of grasp as well. But I love that people are being mindful and they’re like, hey, you know, I’ve been like upping my copper. I know this, this can have a negative impact on zinc. Like should I balance this out? I think that’s like so smart. But luckily, you don’t have to worry about that we do want to balance the two minerals. But I think if someone is focusing on foods, it’s not as big of a concern. It’s more of if someone is using a zinc supplement, that’s when I would be like Let’s keep an eye on your copper status. And you know, like your super low plasmin and everything and make sure that that’s in a good place and it’s not being negatively impacted by taking a zinc supplement. Let’s now dig into zinc and gut health. 


So this is going to cover digestion, the mucosal layer, the gastric lining, we’ll talk about ulcers, and then the immune system. I think this is like some of the cool stuff when it comes to zinc, and actually utilize possibly utilizing zinc supplementation. It’s pretty rare like outside of this that I’m like we should like something like with zinc. But when it comes to digestion, zinc is really important for stomach acid secretion. Because it’s really concentrated in our parietal cells, those are in our pancreas. Those are the cells that release stomach acid. So zinc is a big part of that. We need it to make enough stomach acid, we also need it to release intrinsic factor, which is what helps us absorb vitamin B 12. So that’s obviously a very important one. We use zinc plus other minerals like sodium potassium to make stomach acids. So I think that’s like a huge, huge one. Zinc deficiencies can lead to lower stomach acid production. And then the interesting thing is when we look into the research on this, there’s research on zinc supplements like I think it yeah was chloride, zinc chloride or zinc salt and that has been shown to reduce they say it reduces stomach acid secretion and helps improve symptoms for those struggling with acid reflux. But I don’t I don’t know that it’s actually reducing this stuff. And I linked the study in the show notes, but I don’t know that it’s actually reducing stomach acid secretion because we know what we need is zinc is highly concentrated in our parietal cells, we need it to release stomach acid. 


So when it comes to reflux, a lot of reflux is due to not having enough stomach acid because it didn’t change, it changes the environment and the pH of the stomach. And if we had we need an acidic pH in the stomach and if we don’t have an acidic pH that can actually make at the end of our esophagus, we have like a little sphincter esophageal sphincter, it’s like a flap that covers the esophagus so that the contents from our stomach can’t go back up into the esophagus, which is what heartburn is and feels like. And so if we don’t have if we have too high pH, which is a more alkaline, not acidic pH in the stomach, because we don’t have enough stomach acid, then that flap doesn’t work properly. And we can actually have reflux symptoms because the stomach contents of the stomach go up into the esophagus, and there’s still some acid in there so it can feel like burning. Not all reflux is caused by this and reflux is a very nuanced topic, I am going to cover it in the next season. I’ve already I’ve been like playing in the next season, and have one of my friends come in who’s like an a really amazing talk expert and talker about reflux, like she’s really good at explaining it and going into the different nuances.


Because it is complex. And there’s usually there’s some sort of gut infection that’s like at the root like ah, fluoride. But I think stress is really important nutrient deficiencies are really important. But I just thought it was so interesting that they’re like if we give these patients and chloride like a zinc salt, they their reflux symptoms go away. I don’t think it’s because it was lowering the stomach acid, I think it’s because it was improving it, because they likely had a zinc deficiency, because all these people were on PPIs proton pump inhibitors, which actually inhibit zinc absorption. So if these people already struggling with reflux, and they take a medication that leads to more of a zinc deficiency, and then they’re given zinc and they feel better. I don’t think it’s because it made less stomach acid, I think it’s probably because it helped balance out the pH in their stomach, replenish their zinc and help allow them to make enough stomach acid. 


But we don’t have any research that shows us that but I just thought I would share I was like that’s like I saw it like over and over. And I was like this is so interesting that no one’s like we know that we need it for our parietal cells, but then somehow we’re saying it also lower stomach acid, it’s just interesting. And then the gastric lining is the other piece of this puzzle. Because if we when we have reflux, and if we don’t have like a healthy environment in our stomach, then that can change or if we have like a gut infection like H Pylori, that will change our gastric lining that mucosal layer, and how healthy it is. And then you can you’re more likely one to have like gastritis like inflammation there and it’s like a terrible pain and it’s like a burning it often makes people throw up and have like nausea and stuff. And or it can like full full on like make an ulcer. So zinc is really important for a healthy gastric lining. So the other part of me wonders if this zinc supplementation in these studies is contributing more to improving that gastric lining as well. There is a really cool study that is on zinc carnitine. And how it helps here the gastric lining and gastric ulcers. It was in Japan and in Japan, it’s now approved for like they use in carnosine as like the standard of care before prescription medications like sex set, set tracks, as I always say the strong Cedric state and it’s like citrusy hydrochloride. Technically, it’s basically it helps repair the mucosal layer in the stomach, which is what St carnosine can also do, because of how it impacts that gastric lining. 


So in Japan, they use that first because this study and many others have shown that the zinc carnosine carnosine is actually way more potent, and it cures more of the stomach ulcers than the Cedric say hydrochloride medication. I mean, the medication works like I think it was ended up being like a 60% cure rate. But no, it ended up being like a 46% cure rate. And zinc carnosine had like a 60% cure rate. We’ll go through it in a second. But I just thought that was really interesting. And I think that we can ignore, like all the research is kind of separate. And when I think of like the human body, I’m like I’m just trying to put everything back together and connect it all and when it comes to like zinc and reflux and then gastric lining and healing that I just think they all go together. I think that sink helps us make more healthy levels of stomach acid that makes us have a optimal pH kills pathogens in the stomach so that they can overgrow and then lead to things like inflammation and ulcers and stuff like that. But it can repair too. So they did a randomized controlled double blind trial. And what they did was They had some participants receive receive the zinc carnosine. And then the other participants received the Cedric say hydrochloride. And they did like a four week mark measurement and an eight week mark. And they did do endoscopy these two, so they actually know if the ulcers were gone. But all these people had gastric ulcers. And so at four weeks, they looked at those in carnosine group, and they’re like, how have your symptoms improved? They improved by 61%, symptom wise. And then for the Cedric St. hydrochloride group at four weeks, their symptoms improved by 61.5%. 


So participants that received the zinc carnosine. At the four week mark, they had a 61% improvement in their symptoms, and then the satrix Eight hydrochloride group they had a 61.5% improvement in symptoms. When they got to the eight week mark, the zinc group had a 75% improvement in their symptoms and the Cedric st group had a 72% improvement. So it was very close the whole time. When they performed endoscopies, the zinc group had a 26.3% cure rate, meaning they had no more ulcers at the four week mark 26% of them. Cedric, say at the four week mark was 16% had no more ulcers. And then at eight weeks, the zinc group finished at 60% cure rate, so 60% of the participants had no more ulcers. And the SEC sec trucksafe group had 46.2% numerals are so that’s very significant 60% in the zinc group versus 46%. In the Cedric say, hydrochloride, like the prescription medical medication for mucosal barrier repair, they used 150 milligrams of zinc carnosine a day, which is it’s only made up of 23% zinc, so that provides about like 34.5 milligrams of zinc, and then the carnosine it’s like an amino acid. So it’s not just zinc, I think the zinc carnosine is an important thing to emphasize because I like I don’t think people understand the difference between different zinc supplements. But that one specifically is very healing for the gut, certain amino acids are very healing for the gut. But I just thought that was really interesting. And they they concluded that, you know, zinc carnosine is a better superior relief of symptoms, an improvement in gastric ulcers, when we compare it to known mucosal protective agent like prescription medications. So I just thought that was really interesting. 


And I think it’s like probably has multiple benefits, I think it’s impacting our stomach acid. It’s impacting the actual gastric lining, and then possibly impacting our immune system and allowing it to function properly, to get rid of pathogen possible pathogens that are also contributing. I think the big concern with this is like, I mean, they did this, they only did it for eight weeks using supplements, and it ended up being like 34.5 milligrams of zinc a day. That’s not like an extreme amount, like I would not say that that’s like, I mean, you know, some studies are looking at like 50 to 100 milligrams of zinc, elemental zinc a day. So I think in the grand scheme of things, it’s not an insane amount of zinc. When you look at the actual elemental zinc that’s in zinc carnosine. But I do think it’s important for these people because that, you know, these they had stomach ulcers, like gastric ulcers they had, they likely have other health history, they were on a prescription medication, I would look at, okay, what is their copper status before taking the zinc and then monitor it after and see, like, if there’s anything we need to rebalance? It is only weeks. And I think you have to always weigh like the pros and cons like, okay, are they going to take the zinc carnosine? Are they going to take a prescription medication that has a whole list of possible side effects, and negative reactions that someone could have, I think, obviously, the zinc carnosine is probably going to be the better option there. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t want to pay attention to how this could potentially impact other minerals. I would probably just do like a plasma zinc blood test before and then after they took the zinc supplement. And then a hair test before and after. I mean, this was only eight weeks. So a hair test looks at the last three months. So I’d probably wait a full three months after they from like start to finish of taking the zinc.


 But I think it’s important just to keep that whole picture in mind. Hopefully that that was as interesting as I did. I was like man, that’s like a really cool study. And then when it comes to the immune system, this is like the other piece I think it’s they don’t talk about this and they’re not like accounted for in the study. But it’s like we can’t ignore that zinc is really important for our immune system health, we need it for normal development and function of our innate immune system. So things like phagocytosis, intracellular killing, cytokine production, they’re all affected by zinc deficiency. And these are some of the main ways that our immune system protects us from pathogenic bacteria, viruses, things like that. So it’s really it’s like our like first line of defense. So if we don’t have adequate zinc levels, then you’re much more likely to deal with more severe, like infections, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, stuff like that. Zinc is also a really powerful antioxidant. And that’s important for the healing process. And for a lot of people in general, it helps stabilize our membranes, but it provides that like fight against a lot of inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, people are going to have that for all different reasons. I like the ones that come up in my head, because a lot of the clients I work with, like I think of like mold exposure, I mean, that greatly uses up a lot of your antioxidants in the body. It’s like okay, what sort of inflammation is going to use up and Saxons mold for sure excess iron is a really big one. We’ll talk about that in the next episode. When we do our iron, deep dive, a lot of history, long history of like gut issues, and inflammation in the gut like those, of course are going to deplete zinc and lead to more oxidative stress in the body. But zinc isn’t really important. Antioxidant doesn’t necessarily mean you always need to supplement with it. But it’s something that we do want to consider, like what is Rs ng status, if I have had this big health concern for a while, like has that depleted my zinc, I do think it’s important. It’s also really well known for how it can impact viruses. It has been shown to inhibit the replication of SARS and artery virus, a significant number of COVID patients were shown to be synced deficient. 


And that like was aligned with those patients also having worse outcomes, which I think is really interesting. I think that it was it’s Chris, Master John that hasn’t, he’s done. He’s covered COVID like crazy, so many helpful resources. And he had the whole thing on micronutrients and COVID. And I and he did talk about zinc in that I don’t have the article off top my head, but I’ll try to put it in the show notes. Or you could just like search, like Chris master John COVID. I mean, he’s got like a billion resources that come up. But he does talk about like mineral imbalances, post COVID, and how that could have affected certain symptoms. And I think that zinc, I just wonder how many people that struggle with like smell and taste, and I had a lot of clients with prizmah, and how that zinc could have possibly impacted that. And worse than that for some people. So it’s just really interesting, but it’s so important for our immune system. But it’s also really important for digestion, for keeping a healthy mucosal barrier in the gut. And then when it comes to, if we have a zinc deficiency, we can have certain white blood cells like T helper cells, B cells, those can be depleted, which then reduce our capacity to kill bacteria. So I think people’s gut instinct might be like, well, I want to support my immune system, I want to have a healthy innate immune system, and protect myself against like bacteria, pathogens and viruses, things like that. But you can overdo zinc supplementation, and they can actually impair our immune system function. And there’s a study where healthy adult men, they ingested 150 milligrams of elemental zinc, so like zinc carnosine was 150 milligrams, but only 34 of those milligrams are zinc. This is like truly 150 milligrams of zinc. And they had that twice a day. So 300 milligrams a day, like a lot of zinc for six weeks, only six weeks. And they saw a reduction in lymphocyte stimulation and a reduction in phagocytosis of bacteria. So they like getting rid of that bacteria gobbling it up and making sure that it’s not impacting the rest of our body. So I mean, I don’t think most people are not taking that much zinc. So I don’t think that’s like a huge concern. But I just think it’s really important to recognize that like, we can overdo minerals, supplements are not always the best first line of defense. Usually it’s coming. It’s assessing, like, how much am I getting in my diet? And how can I optimize that? And one thing with this study, too is they see like, okay, like, let’s try all the zinc is it going to make our immune system function better, they see that it actually worsened it. They also noticed that their lipid profiles were not as good so they looked at the cholesterol levels in the healthy men, and they found a decrease in HDL, the good cholesterol and an increase in LDL, which is like the bad cholesterol. So it like flip flopped, their cholesterol profile made it less favorable, which makes sense because that much zinc will definitely deplete copper. And if copper is depleted iron can get out of balance and be overloaded in the body and iron overload overload can very much so increased inflammation and exacerbate cholesterol levels. I talked about this in the cholesterol episode from last season season three. But it we need enough copper Ansarullah plasmin for healthy cholesterol and like iron management. So that’s like a really big piece of the puzzle. All right now, we covered all the fun stuff with gut immune system. Let’s talk about zinc and sex hormones. So like I said in the beginning, Dr. Prasad mazing researcher, he pretty much like popularizing and showed us just how important it is and how it can especially impact Men’s Health and male hormones. And he basically, it’s like if there’s there were severe zinc deficiencies present. He was doing a lot of his research in Iraq, I believe, Oh, no, I ran sorry. I ran. But he’s from India. And he found that there was like these men with severe hypogonadism. So like very low development, they had very low testosterone levels. And he discovered that it was a severe zinc deficiency that they had. And it showed how dramatic of an effect it has on testosterone and serum testosterone levels. He did go on to also show that it can have like, even like a mild zinc deficiency can affect testosterone level. So we’ll talk about that. But yeah, his focus was like testosterone development in young men and children and young men and adult men. But it is also really important for sperm production. So I think so when I when I think of male fertility, and like sperm health, I do think of zinc for adequate sperm production. And then also, for the sperm, actual sperm helps to have healthy sperm. So very important for male fertility. There’s also some studies that show that zinc may inhibit aromatase, and that’s an enzyme that it converts testosterone to estrogen. 


So if you already have low testosterone, and then you’re also converting the testosterone, you have to estrogen, it’s going to really deplete you. A lot of women struggle with aromatase enzymes, too. So it’s not definitely not just men, but zinc can inhibit that. So that means that it will lead to less testosterone being converted to estrogen, which is very favorable, especially for men. And from one of Dr. Prasad studies, they, they restricted dietary zinc in normal young men, so like they did not necessarily have any health issues. And it led to a significant decrease in serum testosterone concentrations after 20 weeks of zinc restriction. So this is important because a lot of studies are not that long, unfortunately. So this is one where I just want to highlight that because again, like will often we’re told that like, we’re not going to have deficiencies and things like vitamin A and certain minerals. The only mineral I know, the doctors that I’ve spoken to have like, recognises like pretty much everyone needs like magnesium. But everything else is like, you know, unless you’re like restricting your food intake, you’re not eating dairy or something like that. They’re like not really worried. But 20 weeks, so we’re talking like, what, like five months, basically, of not ever having restricted zinc, and it significantly lowered their testosterone. So that’s like one aspect. So if we restrict sink in the diet, even if it’s not like it’s a significant decrease, but they didn’t technically develop a deficiency for like 20 weeks, and then their testosterone was impacted. So something to consider, I just think of like men that maybe reduce their red meat intake, their animal foods, encourage foods, like those that people that like pop into my head. And it’s like this, it may not impact you right away. So you may think that it’s not the diet, but it could impact you down the road. I see this with women all the time, too. Okay, so zinc supplementation of marginally zinc deficient, normal elderly men for six months resulted in an increase in serum testosterone, like a significant increase. So that’s like a really big one. So these, they were elderly population member, they’re much more likely to be zinc deficient. It was like over 30% or zinc deficient in the US.


They supplemented with it for six months, again, a lot longer time than most studies are going for. And they saw the increase in testosterone, even an elderly man so I think it’s one where it’s like zinc. We need zinc, healthy zinc to have healthy testosterone and healthy sperm production. I’m also the last episode of this season is on selenium and that is very important for men’s fertility as well we’ll get into but zinc very huge for testosterone, zinc deficiencies can lead to disaster and deficiencies and could possibly impact fertility and sperm in men. When it comes to women. Zinc is really important for the OSA which is The egg before it’s gone through like the maturation process and it’s all developed. So what happened what zinc does is it helps the O site rest long enough until it can be properly matured into the healthy egg that will be fertilized properly. If we don’t have adequate zinc, that can affect your egg quality that can make it so that oh site is not fully developed properly, so then it doesn’t get fertilized properly and it can make pregnancy much harder to achieve. So for egg development and quality zinc is very important. And remember it is a powerful antioxidant. 


So this makes sense. And then when it comes to FSH and LH we also need adequate saying we need FSH and LH that’s like our brain signaling to our ovaries that we’re we need to ovulate like we are safe now we can have ovulation occur. And then ovulation is how we make progesterone and keep progesterone and estrogen imbalance and how we actually conceive of course, right? So we need enough zinc for the oocyte, the underdeveloped the premature like egg, we need it for healthy egg and healthy fertilization. And we need it for ovulation to actually occur. So zinc and fertility very deeply connected. And then like zinc and progesterone production, it’s not the only thing like I could say this about many other minerals as well. So I think that’s important to know. But zinc is one where I’m like if we focus on zinc rich foods, that will give you so many other nutrients as well and like a ton of other benefits. So st gets a lot of fun highlights, and then finally for pregnancy. 


So if we have a zinc deficiency, before we conceive, it can lead to poor placenta development. This then of course, is going to impact the baby’s development and increases our risk of miscarriage, low birth weight neural tube defects and just like overall stunted development, which is exactly what Dr. Prasad found in men, especially like these underdeveloped men with like hypogonadism, they have this severe zinc deficiency. And I think I feel like iron gets all the tension in pregnancy and M is important, it’s so important. And that’s why we need to regulate iron with its cofactors like copper and vitamin A is to keep it in motion to keep it actually usable in the body. But I’m like zinc is so important for pregnancy too. And I feel like it just gets no attention. We need it to actually get pregnant, we needed to develop the placenta, which is what like feeds and allows the baby to grow and then postpartum it’s really important to and I have more info on this in the bonus episode. And just like a study that broke down like how sync impacted women with postpartum depression, which is just very interesting to me. But it’s zinc is important for I would definitely say like, got health, immune system hormones, but then also like fertility for men and women, and for pregnancy, and like prenatal nutrition as well. All right, we’re gonna do blood sugar, thyroid, and then I’ll try to rapid fire answer some q&a. So this is not like another super long episode. I say that every time. So when it comes to blood sugar, and zinc, our beta cells need zinc. Those are the cells in the pancreas that release insulin, they need zinc in order to make insulin. It’s also important for the storage of insulin in the pancreas, and the release of it. 


So you know in our pancreas actually has the highest concentration of zinc in our bodies, which is interesting. Like we don’t store a lot of zinc, but we have a ton in the pancreas, you have some in the brain, in the hippocampus, and then we have some in our muscles in our bones. But zinc deficiency is associated with insulin resistance. And we know that diabetes people that especially people that have uncontrolled diabetes, specifically, like if they actually have high blood sugar, that actually increases our loss of zinc through the urine, as well as other minerals. Insulin resistance basically makes it so we lose more minerals to the urine, we don’t get as many inside of ourselves. So zinc can help glucose get inside the cell, it helps us make and store insulin, lots of zinc in our pancreas. And if you are someone that struggles with high blood sugar, insulin resistance, then you’re much more likely to have a zinc deficiency. And it’s like, okay, so zinc deficiency can make diabetes worse, and then like uncontrolled diabetes can make zinc deficiency worse. I also think of magnesium and I think a zinc deficiency is because typically someone has a magnesium deficiency way before they have a zinc deficiency. And you can often see that on a hair test even bloodwork honestly. And chronic stress is going to deplete both magnesium and zinc. And that’s going to have a negative impact on insulin resistance and how sensitive our cells are to insulin. And then eventually, potassium is impacted and that gets depleted. And if you listen to the potassium deep dive, then you know that potassium helps like shuttle glucose inside ourselves. It’s such a cool mineral. So overall, just minerals are so important for blood sugar balance, I feel like macronutrient rents are always the main focus, and those are 100% matter. But if someone has a deficiency and maybe magnesium, potassium or zinc, or all of them are an imbalance in calcium too, that can majorly throw off their blood sugar balance and possibly insulin to okay thyroid, so we do need zinc for TSH production. 


This is where I think zinc is the most interesting when it comes to thyroid. Yes, we need zinc to convert at inactive thyroid hormone to four to active thyroid hormone T three, but we are pituitary gland that’s the the gland that makes TSH thyroid stimulating hormone. And we need zinc to make that thyroid stimulating hormone. So if we aren’t making enough of that TSH, then your thyroid never gets the message that hey, you need to make more thyroid hormone. So because of that, it doesn’t make more so it’s tricky because your TSH is not high, which is what doctors use to see if you have hypothyroidism. So TSH is in hive, which makes her thyroid look like it’s normal. But then T for production and T three production or low, very common thyroid pattern that I see a lot. Sometimes it’s from stress. But deficiencies like zinc can also play a big part in that it zinc supplementation is not always going to fix it long term, it could help in the short term, but we have to take one step back further and look like okay, well what causes zinc deficiency in the first place. But I just thought that was really interesting. We also need zinc for our T three receptors. If a deficiency is present, it can impair T three being able to bind to our receptors. And that basically, it’s like you can have all the thyroid hormone you want in the world. But if it can’t bind, then it doesn’t really matter.


And then similarly, the like sodium and potassium and how I talked about like the sodium potassium pump and how we need enough sodium potassium to absorb thyroid hormone into the cells. We also need enough thyroid hormone to absorb sodium and potassium and retain it properly. Zinc is very similar where we need enough thyroid hormone to absorb zinc. And this is why people with hypothyroidism, they can have what’s called an acquired zinc deficiency. So it’s not that they were deficient in zinc, and then they got hypothyroidism. It’s that they got hypothyroidism and then that inhibited their zinc absorption and led to a deficiency. The research also shows that, you know, having a zinc deficiency with if you actually take a supplement for that, like adequate amount, then that can improve thyroid function. So it goes hand in hand. I don’t think there’s any one mineral that’s going to like, fix and resolve long term thyroid issues. But it’s pretty promising and interesting, like being able to see zinc have such a big impact. 


Alright, let’s go through some of these q&a. What are the best sources of zinc besides oysters? Red meat, easy. Red meat for sure. Zinc supplementation. A lot of people just wanted to know like what zinc supplement is the best. I did a breakdown of different types of zinc supplements and what they could be good for versus like a Whole Foods zinc. And like how that can compare with the amount of zinc in it for the bonus episode and Patreon. So I would take a look at that. It’s too much for me to go through. I don’t want to make this like another hour and half episode. If eating a lot of copper rich foods, is it okay to supplement zinc alone, serum zinc is low. So I like I said before, like we copper is not going to push covers from food or supplements doesn’t lower our zinc status. But you have to remember we’re not storing a ton of zinc in the body. So that’s likely why. But zinc supplements can impact copper. So I would say like you don’t need to take a zinc supplement with the copper rich foods. And if your serum zinc is low, I try to look at plasma zinc. Or if you can get a hair test done, that’s going to show you a much more accurate picture. I’m guessing your plasmas name is probably going to be low anyway, if your serum is low. But that’s when like inflammation could be present because inflammation is going to lower your zinc because your body’s using more of it. But it’s like I would try to get to the issue because that low zinc is your body trying to communicate with you that there’s a deeper issue. 


Someone says I can bad I had to look it up but there’s about 11 milligrams of elemental zinc per tablet. I don’t think short term it’s a huge concern. Because zinc has like you know, the research shows it may be able to reduce the severity and duration of colds symptoms, especially for things like viral viral issues. Because it can prevent the virus from binding and like replicating it kind of like stops it in its tracks. But I think if you’re constantly taking that I would question like, like why why are you constantly getting sick? You know, is there anything deeper? We can look at there? But I think 11 milligrams is not a huge deal. I don’t know how many of these are popping a day. I mean, I wouldn’t do more than like three, probably and try to keep it super short term, but I don’t necessarily think it’s like bad. Is there a relationship between zinc deficiencies and fungal overgrowth? I like yes, you often can see like fungal overgrowth with zinc deficiencies. I tend to see fungal overgrowth as like, our immune system is exhausted and depleted and it’s not functioning properly. And we have other imbalances in the gut that are allowing fungal like fungus and Candida, yeast and things like that to thrive. So if it’s a concern, it’s probably been brewing for a long time. And so it’s one where zinc could be part of that picture. But it’s so important to understand like, how is your digestion if we’re not bringing down our food, well, then that’s going to have a big impact on our immune system. And over time, it can really stress it out and deplete it. Especially if you know we’re not making enough stomach acid then you can, you’re much more likely to have like pathogens come in your gut, and then that will alert your immune system. So my gut instinct with someone with fungal issues is look more at their immune system and their foundations and their basic functions in the body versus like taking a zinc supplement because someone has fungal overgrowth, but if someone like say it’s really bad, and someone had plastic antifungals if they don’t respond well, to them, zinc has been shown to be an effective alternative. 


Okay, how does zinc or lack thereof affect nail pinning? So I feel like nail pinning specifically, I feel like it’s much more related to gut issues it often is going hand in hand with that was someone that also has psoriasis or eczema. If someone has like brittle nails or cracks that can be more associated with a zinc deficiency. Okay, does low zinc cause splotches on the skin and white dots in the nails. So white spots on nails usually are developing after a viral infection could be related to zinc because you’re using it up but it’s it’s usually related more to our immune system health and vitamins and minerals in general, I don’t think that white spots on nails are like an absolute sign of zinc deficiency. And then you can get rashes that appear like eczema if a zinc deficiency is present. But again, like this could be so many other things. So I wouldn’t like just jump to zinc unless you unless you’ve done like a ton of lab, not a ton, but like maybe you’ve done like plasma blood work for zinc, a hair test, track your symptoms, and looked at other things. Like I would want to rule other things out for sure. But any skin stuff, it’s almost always a gut connection. So I would definitely consider that. If the doctor told me take a zinc supplement, should I get one with copper to balance? So I put this one in here, because I just want to remind you guys that I can’t answer these kind of questions. I love you. And I love the questions and I love the support. But like you This is something I just hope that you’re not asking someone else because I’m worried someone else on the internet will give you an answer. You have to talk to your doctor about this stuff. Don’t listen to random people on the internet. Even everything I’m sharing, it’s generalized, I share the research because I want you guys to do your own research and think about it and apply it to yourself and your health history and situation. Always talk to your doctor. 


But remember, if you’re taking zinc, you might just want to assess your copper status. And like you can get copper from foods. And in the bonus episode, I go through like a sample day have like really high zinc intake from food. And then I wrote down like, you know, maybe you up your zinc from food and then you take like less of a zinc supplement. And that could be like a good balance. Okay, should kids supplement with zinc for immune health? Um, I mean, I would do the same thing with kids prioritizing rich foods like and you know, the RDA is going to vary depending on their age, like three to eight milligrams, that’s not hard to get from food. If they have a true deficiency, like maybe they had behavioral issues or something, ADHD and you’re like, I think they could really have a zinc deficiency. Maybe you found you have a zinc deficiency. And you’re like, I think we need to rebalance this and my child, I would still go I would still do hair testing. And I would do hair testing over bloodwork because bloodwork can be really traumatizing for kids and then go by like symptoms and then see like if you do up zinc from food, and then maybe take a small amount of a supplement is that improving things. 


You also want to address their other minerals though, especially magnesium, I imagine if a kid has a zinc deficiency, they probably need magnesium. And I think topical for kids is great like magnesium baths, magnesium lotion, that sort of thing. But I wouldn’t just take it for immune health but I could see someone understand why they would do it for behavioral issues is zinc and beauty products and sunscreen your problem so zinc oxide is typically the zinc that’s in beauty products and sunscreen like if you got like a mineral sunscreen. It is not readily absorbed. So only a very small amount is going to get into the system so I’m personally I use a zinc based sunscreen if I’m out in the sun a lot. And I’m not personally worried about it and I did like a study about zinc oxide to what would caused zinc to be high and a hair mineral test if I’m not supplementing so zinc high and a test on a hair test is like it’s showing that it’s a loss, you’re losing zinc your body’s using it. Typically it’s a sign of inflammation. You do want to compare to magnesium. If magnesium is deficient or if it’s really high, you’re more likely to see a loss or deficiency with zinc. But yeah, it’s it’s probably a sign of inflammation or deficiency of another mineral. So that is it. That’s our zinc episode. I hope you guys enjoyed this. And if you want to get access to the bonus episode, where I go through like lab testing, you get the sample day of eating 39 milligrams of zinc of the diet, zinc rich foods, zinc supplements and here we talk all about that you can go to patreon.com/hormone Healing rd and I will see you in the next episode.

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

Master Your Minerals

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Hormone Healing RD