Zinc Rich Foods: Eat Your Way To Better Health
Some people swear by zinc for preventing or shortening the duration of colds and flu. Now, scientists are finding that it may influence immune response to inflammation and other stimuli. Research supports eating zinc rich foods may increase overall health and vitality.
A new study found in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests that insufficient levels of zinc may increase the risk of chronic disease, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic conditions for which inflammation is a risk factor. The study was supported by the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station, Bayer Consumer Care AG of Switzerland, and OSU.
In the absence of zinc, immune cells, especially those that control inflammation, seem to react in a way that increases inflammation, according to Emily Ho, lead author and Director of OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health.
In a study designed to examine the link between zinc and inflammation, experiments were conducted that showed zinc deficiency increased inflammation in cells. The researchers found a reduction in zinc led to abnormal immune cell activation and impaired cytokine IL-6, a protein that influences cellular inflammation.
Researchers measured levels of zinc in live mice of varying ages. They not only found that older mice had lower levels of zinc, but that these lower levels corresponded with higher levels of inflammation and decreased IL-6 methylation, an epigenetic mechanism that controls genetic expression. Immune cells from elderly human subjects also showed decreased IL-6 methylation.
These two studies suggest a possible inverse correlation between zinc and inflammation.
Zinc Rich Foods
Zinc is critical to many physiological processes, such as growth, development, neurological function, and the immune system. Oysters are one of the best sources of zinc, but all protein rich foods are high in the mineral.
About one in eight Americans are zinc deficient. After the age of 65, the number jumps to nearly half. Many older adults consume less zinc in their diets, just when their bodies are no longer able to absorb it as well, making it twice as difficult to get enough.
Understanding how zinc, or any nutrient, functions in the body is vital to determining what the dietary recommendations need to be. The current guidelines recommend daily consumption of 8mg for women and 11mg for men, without regard to age. In light of these new findings, the guidelines may need to be adjusted to ensure older adults get enough.
Zinc is not easily stored in the body, so it is important to consume zinc-rich foods daily. However, it is important not to consume more than the upper limit of 40mg per day as getting too much zinc can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb other nutrients.
Further research is needed to find out why older adults are less able to absorb and utilize zinc.
Dr. Lam’s Perspective on Zinc Rich Foods and Supplements for Adrenal Fatigue:
There is actually a multifaceted relationship between adrenal fatigue and zinc deficiency.
Zinc aids in the the production of many vital hormones including the thyroid hormones. It is also an important nutrient associated with synthesis of other hormones such as progesterone, cortisol and aldosterone. Accordingly, zinc deficiency from a diet poor in zinc can exacerbate hormone imbalances in adrenal fatigue. One of the main functions of cortisol produced by the adrenal glands is to fight inflammation, and so a deficiency in zinc may be a double insult to the body’s inflammation fighting capabilities.
Furthermore, many health problems are associated with adrenal fatigue and some of them, such as estrogen dominance, copper overload and pyroluria, are also exacerbated by zinc deficiency; so supplementing with the mineral zinc and eating zinc rich foods can a powerful tool to help with the recovery process.
Unfortunately, for those in late stages of adrenal fatigue such as Stage 3 Adrenal Exhaustion, the body cannot easily handle any kind of supplementation, including zinc. Supplements for adrenal fatigue are very important. Zinc is an important part of the recovery process for those who do have zinc deficiency, but should not be attempted until the body has recovered enough strength and is in the proper state to benefit. Zinc is not a long term supplement for the body except in specific situations. Improper use of zinc including poor timing, frequency, intensity and frequency can lead to adrenal crashes. For those who are already taking zinc supplementation should not be stopped abruptly. This is especially important for those taking zinc to combat pyroluria.
As always, when using supplements for adrenal fatigue, it is important to consult with an expert to make sure that nutritional supplementation is in the right form and the right amounts to best benefit your body.