There has been so much talk about zinc for immunity lately and zinc is great at boosting immunity but that’s not where its benefits end. Zinc is involved in hundreds of enzymatic processes. It is actually needed by every single cell in your body!
Being an essential trace mineral means zinc must be consumed in your diet as your body can not manufacture or substitute it with anything else. It is thought that roughly 50% of the western population isn’t getting adequate amounts. As zinc is found mostly in animal products your risk of deficiency is increased if you are eating a strictly plant-based diet. Key animal sources include oysters, beef, crab, lobsters, pork, and chicken. It is found in much smaller amounts in some plant-based foods eg pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas, almonds, kidney beans.
We really need it for this stage of life as it helps with hormonal balance.
In peri-menopause, we need zinc for the production of the hormones FSH and LH. These 2 key hormones help regulate our cycles and stimulate ovarian production of our reproductive hormones.
In post menopause it is needed for aromatase activity, aromatase is the enzyme responsible for the conversion of androgens into estrogen, this mostly occurs in your adrenal glands and adipose tissue, this is your primary production of estrogen for the rest of your life.
Are you concerned about your testosterone levels or a potential loss of sexual function? One study found zinc supplementation to have a significant impact on improving libido levels, sexual function, and satisfaction in postmenopausal women.
Zinc is a key skin and mucous membrane nutrient. I think of these structures as being like a brick wall, with zinc being the bricks and essential fatty acids being the mortar. If you want healthy skin, adequate zinc is essential. Signs of low zinc include acne (especially hormonal acne), poor skin healing, and stretch marks. Without adequate zinc, your mucous membranes dry out and have a reduced ability to self lubricate. (Ladies, think vaginal dryness.) As your uterine lining is full of mucous membranes, zinc deficiency here has been linked with heavier and more painful periods, if you are still menstruating. At the same time, research has indicated women low in zinc may be at greater risk of developing uterine fibroids.
Zinc also plays a role in keeping oil glands surrounding hair follicles healthy and may help reduce hair loss in women.
Low zinc levels are an independent risk for the development of sarcopenia. This is the reduction of muscle cells and the infiltration of fat cells into your lean tissue.
As zinc is important for bone health, deficiency may play a role in the development of poor bone density and osteoporosis.
The highest amount of zinc is found in your ears (actually your cochlear and vestibule). Zinc is essential for hearing and having adequate amounts as you age can prevent hearing loss and reduce tinnitus (ringing in your ears).
The second-highest concentration of zinc is found in your eyes. Maintaining good zinc status can prevent macular degeneration and age-related vision loss.
Actually, zinc is needed for all your special senses, so if you enjoy tasting and smelling, you need adequate zinc too.
Zinc truly is an important mineral, this article has just touched on a few of its roles that impact a woman transiting into menopause and beyond. If you would like to learn more please consider joining the Minerals for Menopause Class on Tuesday 24th May. https://naturalmedicineweek.com.au/events/minerals-for-menopause/
The Role of zinc in selected Reproductive Conditions
Zinc picolinate in the prevention of leiomyomas in Japanese Quail
Zinc: the neglected nutrient
Zinc-containing Vaginal Moisturizer Gel Improves Postmenopausal Vulvovaginal Symptoms
Effect of zinc supplementation on testosterone levels and sexual function in postmenopausal women
Zinc and the special senses