By Guest Writer Ellen Syversen, MPH, CHES, & NTP
Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
Most of us forget about zinc until the beginning of cold and flu season, and during the winter most of us know that zinc can be very helpful in fighting off seasonal bugs. However, the rest of the year we probably never think about zinc and all its essential functions. Actually, this poor lonely and forgotten nutrient is an essential mineral that plays a key role in prostate, immune, reproductive, detoxification, and digestive function. For my male clients that are trying to start a family and older males with prostate issues, I make sure that their zinc status is optimal!
The following are some additional functions of zinc:
· Plays a role in the production of stomach acid
· Regulates the release of vitamin A from the liver
· Essential for skin and bone integrity
· Necessary for wound healing
· Needed for taste perception
· Critical for cell growth and cellular replication of DNA
· Assists in the synthesis of cholesterol, fats, and proteins
· Required cofactor for essential fatty acid metabolism and synthesis
Luckily, there are a lot of wonderful and healthy foods that are good sources of zinc. Oysters, egg yolks, lamb, liver and poultry are key sources from animal foods. If you are looking for vegetarian sources of zinc try pumpkin seeds, pecans, mushrooms and legumes. Like iron, zinc from animal foods, where it is bound with proteins, is better absorbed. Of course, there are many individuals that have adequate sources of zinc in their diet, however, due to faulty digestion they are not absorbing zinc from their food sources. Digestion is so important from a nutritional therapy perspective.
It is also important to understand that zinc can be depleted by a number of factors including stress, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and alcohol consumption. Thin nails with white spots, slow wound healing, acne, constant colds, infertility (especially with men), PMS, and memory impairment are all possible signs of a zinc deficiency. Pregnant and lactating women, women on birth control pills, athletes, adolescent boys, and individuals hospitalized for serious illness have increased zinc needs.
If you remember Maslow’s hierarchy from psychology 101, you remember that the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy is food and water. In other words, you can not secure social, spiritual, financial and security needs without water and proper nutrition. It is our most basic need, as well as the foundation of our health and well being. I love working with clients to provide a comprehensive assessment and plan, and I love to see how energy and stamina increase with positive diet and lifestyle changes.
Written by Ellen Syversen, MPH, CHES, NTP, Pathways for Health, LLC, www.pathwaysforhealth.net, 541-912-8624.
*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living