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Zinc and the role it plays for your immunity

By Jenetta Haim
from Stressfree Management®

Zinc is a mineral that helps to keep your body healthy. Unfortunately, many of us do not get enough Zinc in our diets. This can be because there are poor zinc levels in the soil where the crops we eat grow or you are eating a lot of heavily processed food. Sometimes even if you eat healthy your body does not absorb certain nutrients you need and for that reason your Zinc levels can be low.

Zinc is not stored in the body so absorption can be a problem due to too much copper in the body, heavy metal toxicity or phytates in our foods. Other things that can affect whether you absorb Zinc could be that you drink too much coffee, are a vegetarian, drink too much alcohol or even exercise too much. While some of these habits such as being a vegetarian and exercise are good in moderation, they perhaps don’t suit your DNA, history or ancestral background and therefore affect you in a negative way. Every person is different. Elderly people and pregnant women also need more zinc than others, as do men especially when they get into their older years.

Zinc is important for male health as it not only helps keep up immunity and healthy cell growth, but it preserves prostate health by keeping testosterone levels and sexual health to a maximum. Zinc deficiency in men can lead to prostrate issues, difficulties in prostate functions and even tumours.

How do I feel if I have a Zinc deficiency? What illnesses does it have a role in?

Do you have white spots on your fingernails? Do you get frequent colds, flu, allergies or have problems with taste and smell? These could be a sign of a zinc deficiency although sometimes fingernail issues may be due to injury to your hands because you use them harshly. Zinc is also important for your stress levels so if you find you are moody or have ongoing neurological disturbances it could be you are lacking this mineral.

Zinc also helps protect your gut and to keep it healthy. It helps heal the intestinal cells. It’s also great for your skin and people who are low in zinc have more skin issues or slower healing processes for their skin when they injure themselves. Zinc also can help to reduce stretch marks and assist with dermatitis. Is your hair thinning or greying too quickly? Could be you need more of this essential nutrient. Similarly, it helps to maintain a healthy thyroid.

So, as you can see zinc deficiency can impact on many areas of your body – your hormones, reproductive system, even be a cause in liver issues, metabolic syndrome, inflammation, weight gain and bowel diseases. Of course, being just deficient in zinc will not be the sole cause of any of these issues but if you have chronic deficiencies it puts you on the path to ill health so easily. It therefore becomes important that a zinc deficiency is something you need to attend to asap.

Where can I find Zinc in the foods I eat?
Zinc is better absorbed from animal foods than plant based foods so sometimes vegetarians or vegans, or people on diets for a long time, have zinc deficiencies. The best source of zinc in animal foods is red meat, poultry, beef, chicken, pork, oysters, crabs, lobster and eggs. Vegetarians however need not despair because it is also in avocadoes, blackberries, pomegranates, guavas, raspberries and many other fruits. It can also be found in green peas, spinach, beans broccoli, garlic, pumpkin seeds, rice, lentils and many more vegetables.

How do I know I have a zinc deficiency?
Having any of the above illnesses or symptoms previously mentioned means you need to find out what vitamins and minerals you are deficient in. This can be done with a simple saliva or hair test from any one of a number of natural clinics, naturopaths, nutritionists. You should be able to get a simple zinc test from your health store or naturopath. It involves taking a spoonful of liquid in your mouth and holding it for a minute or so. Then you swallow and depending on the taste it leaves in your mouth your practitioner can tell you how deficient you are. Some clinics do a saliva or hair test for all your vitamins and minerals. It is also possible to test for inflammation causing agents such as pollutants, foods you are sensitive to, animal furs, stomach enzymes that are missing etc. Your natural practitioner is the best person to let you know what their testing site looks at and what it can do for you. They will also be able to tell you the right dosages of the supplements you need to take and give you a form of zinc that you can easily absorb. Similarly, nutritionists can help you plan a diet that will include not only zinc but other supplements you may be lacking. This will not only increase your nutrient levels, energy levels but also keep you fit and get you healthy.

What happens if I take wrong dosages?
As with most wrong dosages it is possible to overdo natural supplements. Too much zinc in females can lead to symptoms such as nausea, headaches, stomach issues, loss of appetite and dizziness. If you take too much for an extended period of time it can affect your HDL (good) cholesterol and your copper levels as your body is not in balance. In men it can also cause loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea and headaches. It can affect the balance or iron and copper in your body and in this way cause immunity issues. The lesson here is not to ‘self-prescribe’ but to listen to your natural therapist who has been trained in giving you the right quantities for your body in terms of diet and all natural supplements.

More about the author

jenetta pic 2 headshot from vivid
Jenetta Haim
– Stressfree Management®

Jenetta Haim - Nutritionist, Stress Management Specialist and Hypnotherapist

Jenetta Haim is accredited in many modalities beginning her journey at age 17 through the inspiration of her mother’s interests in Louise Hay. Over the years Jenetta studied many religions and cultures which brought her to attain a Master’s Degree specialising in ways to handle stress in Western Society using Eastern Philosophies.

As a member of ATMS she runs a full holistic clinic in Greystanes having attained her Diploma in Nutrition in 1981. Since then Jenetta has serviced the community both nationally and internationally face to face at her clinic, public lectures and courses and via the internet.

Jenetta specialises in diagnosis and application of sound methods to assist her clients to heal from core causes. Her many areas of speciality take into account everything from gut issues to pain management to conquering your fears and phobias. Jenetta’s passion and interest is YOU as a client and to assist YOU to be the best that you can be on every level – energetically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. She believes all people have the capability to tap into their passion and use it to bring joy, peace and wellbeing into their lives – it’s just a matter of having the right toolkit.

Jenetta runs her clinic amidst many other interests. She is an international author, runs a tutoring school, enjoys social activities and working with her community to assist people to pursue their freedom and truth.