Minerals are essential to life.  The mineral of focus in this article will be the less familiar but very important zinc.  Zinc is a trace mineral meaning that one needs less than 5 grams daily.  More specifically, we only need 11 milligrams daily.  Very good sources of zinc include beef, spinach, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms and crimini mushrooms.  Honorable mention goes to turkey, quinoa and shrimp.   Since the American diet tends to include higher meat consumption, one may think that obtaining the 11 milligrams a day is easily done.  However, the highest amount and quality of zinc is found in organic sources, and those who choose not to include meat in their diet or consume a lot of processed foods run the risk of being deficient in zinc.  This key mineral is vital in our sense of smell, immunity, skin and men’s health.  Zinc is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body essential for these functions.  Basically, zinc acts like a necessary weaver and interlocks enzymes for proper functioning.  For this reason, zinc is considered a “cofactor.”  It also strengthens the integrity of mucous membranes and buffers immunity factors.  Is it any wonder why we find a few zinc-based products on the market?  For example, there is a popular over the counter product that uses a probe for nasal swabbing for cold and allergy relief (starts with a Zi-).

Like sodium and potassium, or calcium and magnesium, zinc and copper levels balance each other in the machinery involved in transport and metabolism. For this reason, balancing dietary zinc and copper sources may help prevent deficiency or excess of either mineral.  So there is such thing as too much of a good thing.  However, the reality is that most of us have room for improvement in our balance of zinc and copper.  Naturopathic doctors can test your mineral levels through nutrient testing. With this testing, we can ensure that you will be guided to raise your nutritional status to an optimal level.  Attaining favorable levels can be done through food, supplementation (liquid, tablet and lozenge), or in an IV solution that bypasses the gastrointestinal system.  Don’t let this overlooked mineral pass your attention and be sure to stay on target for your health needs.

Dr. Magda Peronel, ND