The Zinc Link. Covid-19.
Zinc is essential for strong immune function and essential to our diet i.e. it must be consumed in the diet for sufficient requirements.
Zinc helps with 100's of enzymatic reactions, necessary for chemical reactions, facilitating protein folding and in regulating gene expression! It's critical for healthy development & maintenance.
And unfortunately ... most people are chronically deficient, making them susceptible to viral infections & disease. I explain why, along with the link to covid-19.
‘... As many as 2 billion people around the world have diets deficient in zinc, and studies are raising concerns about the health implications this holds for infectious disease, immune function, DNA damage and cancer.’ ~ Dr Joseph Mercola.
Zinc & Chloroquine.
You may have read about a drug that's being used in some countries e.g. China and South Korea to treat covid-19 with almost 100% success rate - Chloroquine. It's a drug that's historically used to treat malaria and other infections for 75 years or more.
The efficiency of chloroquine is based on it's ability to efficiently transport zinc into the cell. Once in the cell, zinc works to block / prevent the viral replication.
This treatment is working successfully against covid-19, as are cases of high dose vitamin C!
Several studies (cited below) show zinc has an antiviral affect i.e. blocking or preventing viral activity within the cell, including respiratory infections and pneumonia.
Sufficient levels of the nutrient zinc, are important for a healthy immune system and the ability to ward off viral infections, including pneumonia.
Signs of zinc deficiency;
- Zinc deficiency during growth periods e.g. infancy and puberty results in growth failure.
- Dairrohea can be a sign of severe deficiency.
- Susceptibility to pneumonia.
- Metabolic disease such as insulin resistance may also be linked.
- Loss of taste and sense of smell (which people can get used to without realising).
10 more important reasons for zinc;
- Nutrient absorption. Zinc is an active agent in our body’s ability to metabolise food and nutrients. If zinc levels are low we won't absorb food / nutrients effectively.
- Metabolism. It is also involved with triggering over 100 differing internal enzymes required for many metabolic actions. Zinc is critical for a healthy metabolism.
- Immunity. Zinc is also crucial for the health of our immune system.
- Healthy muscle growth. Zinc aids cell division and cell growth so it’s necessary for maintaining muscles and our skeletal system. It’s therefore particularly important in pregnant and lactating women and for growth in children.
- Wound healing. Zinc plays a role in the body’s ability to heal itself after an injury. It’s important for our sense of smell and is commonly linked to healthy eyes, skin and hair.
- Eye health. Zinc is needed to convert vitamin A into its active form and to maintain good vision.
- Balances hormones and supports reproductive health. It’s needed to help produce estrogen and progesterone. It also increases testosterone naturally, which has many roles for both men and women.
- Balances blood sugars. Zinc helps balance insulin, the main hormone involved in the regulation of blood sugar.
- Brain health. Zinc may act as a kind of sedative mineral on the central nervous system, acting as a calming agent and helping us to manage stress better.
- Promotes a healthy gut. One of the cornerstones of a healthy gut is strong stomach acid. Zinc is needed to help in the manufacture of our stomach acid. If you or your children suffer from reflux, consider zinc.
Depleted soils, stress, poor diet, chemicals and chronic illness are just a few of the many factors that deplete our zinc exposure and absorption. The body doesn’t store zinc so we need to make sure we get enough in our diet.
Other factors competing for zinc & leading to malabsorption;
- Phytates and oxalates found in foods such as grains and legumes and if not well prepared e.g. soaked and activated. Phytic acid is the main known inhibitor of zinc absorbtion hence deficiency is more prevalent in areas with high cereal / grain consumption.
- Caffeine and tannins from tea and coffee.
- Oral contraceptives.
- Pharmaceuticals such as aspirin and others.
- Prolonged periods of diarrhoea.
- High fibre diets can lead to malabsorption (fibre binds to zinc travelling through the gut).
- Alcohol can reduce absorption and increases excretion of zinc.
- Periods of stress, emotional and physical can also deplete zinc.
- Inflammation in the small intestine. Zinc is absorbed in the small intestine, if there is disfunction of the small intestine this may also lead to malabsorption.
- Zinc and copper work together and are tightly wedded. If copper levels are high, it’s likely we need zinc, if zinc is high it’s likely will need copper. In Western Australia we have a lot of exposure to copper and are generally low in zinc – get yourself tested!
- Heavy metals such as mercury and nickel compete for cellular zinc, detrimentally displacing the small amount we might have in our diets. Unless we've specifically chelated (detoxed) for these heavy metals we're likely to be carrying some, (testing details below).
Note: Infants, children, adolescents, pregnant and breastfeeding women have increased requirements for zinc and are most at risk of zinc depletion.
Top 10 foods high in zinc.
- Oysters from a clean ocean, freshly shucked (hence the pic of my hubby shucking oysters).
- Fresh organic red meat – beef, mutton, goat and lamb
- Sea vegetables e.g. nori, dulse and wakame.
- Pumpkin seeds
- Adzuki beans
Having protein, in particular animal protein, helps increase the uptake of zinc. Plus consuming animal foods (e.g., beef, eggs and cheese) helps improve the bioavailability (absorption) of zinc from plant foods.
How to know if you’re zinc deficient?
It can be difficult to test for zinc levels accurately. Try adding in more of the foods above first or if you need to supplement opt for a good quality liquid or colloidal form which is most absorbable, and a trusted brand.
Testing: Zinc can be tested with a blood test, a urine test or a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA).
Zinc is just ONE nutrient, of many many nutrients the human body requires for optimal function. Eating a clean, whole food diet incorporated with a healthy lifestyle is a big step forward in optimising our well-being.
And always discuss concerns or questions with your health practitioner first.
To learn more about how you can improve your wellbeing and get to the root cause, please contact Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of this information came from a post I wrote awhile ago, 'Life Force. 11 health benefits of zinc' & why minerals are our life force.