Zinc promotes a healthy immune system and the healing of wounds. It protects the liver from chemical damage and is vital for bone formation (think about this in regards to dealing with osteoporosis!). It also enhances acuity of taste and smell.
Many of you know about taking zinc lozenges when you first notice cold or flu symptoms. Taking zinc boosts the immune system. You can take a lozenge every 6 hours for up to three days. Longer than that is not going to help and, in fact, will depress your immune system, as will taking too much zinc. Daily intake for healthy people should be around 20 mg per day, with maximum level of 40 mg per day.
How do you know if you are low in zinc?
Look at your fingernails. Are they thin, peel, and have white spots? Other possible signs are acne, delayed sexual maturation, fatigue, growth impairment, hair loss, high cholesterol levels, impaired night vision, impotence, increased susceptibility to infection, infertility, memory impairment, a propensity to diabetes, prostrate trouble, recurrent colds and flu, skin lesions, and slow wound healing.
However you may be taking in plenty of zinc!
- Too much calcium can interfere with absorption of zinc (and excess zinc can interfere with calcium absorption, especially if calcium intake is low). For most people, the best ratio between supplemental calcium and zinc is up to 2500 milligrams of calcium with 50 milligrams of zinc daily.
- Zinc levels may be lowered by diarrhea, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and diabetes.
- Dietary fiber and phytic acid, found in bran, wholegrain cereals and nuts inhibit zinc absorption.
- Significant amount of zinc is lost through perspiration.
- Taking zinc and iron together interferes with each other.
Zinc absorption has been shown to be greater when you increase the protein content in your diet, although the level of zinc absorption varies depending on the kind of protein you eat. Pumpkin seeds ( also known as pepitas) are an excellent source of zinc and contain a significant amount of protein, as well. They even provide Omega-3! There is a lot of research going on with these little nutritious seeds, especially in the treatment of prostrate ailments. Other studies are on anxiety disorders, arteriosclerosis, cholesterol levels, and arthritis.
Food sources for zinc in addition to pumpkin seeds include: brewer's yeast, egg yolks, fish, kelp, lamb, legumes, lima beans, liver, mushrooms, oysters, pecans, poultry, sardines, seafood, sunflower seeds and whole grains.
Herbs that contain zinc include: alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, milk thistle, mullein, nettle, parsley, rose hips, sage, sarsaparilla, skullcap, and wild yam.
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