Zinc is an essential trace element and mineral that’s found in all living beings. It’s known as ‘essential’ for a reason: it has a major effect on your overall health. In fact, it performs more biological roles within the body than all other elements combined.
However, your body has no means of producing or storing the mineral, so it’s tough to regulate your intake – the World Health Organisation estimates that 31% of people globally are zinc deficient.
Ensuring that your levels are optimised will help you maintain your natural sparkle.
Why are we just starting to notice how common zinc deficiency is?
Though known as a crucial element for plants and animals since the early 1900s, it took another 60 years before scientists began to investigate zinc’s effect on humans, and clinicians focused more on the effects of iron deficiency. The mineral was finally identified as essential only in 2009.
You get zinc mainly from your food. But even if you eat three balanced meals a day, it’s not quite that simple – modern food doesn’t contain as much zinc as our cavemen ancestors ate, for two key reasons:
- Industrialised food processing rinses out up to 50% of zinc through mechanical and chemical processes.
- Cooking habits – we don’t often risk eating raw meat or veg today, but cooking to well-done fries essential minerals to a crisp, preventing them from being absorbed by your body.
So now, up to 2 billion people globally have a marginal zinc deficiency – but this is not severe enough for them to realise their condition, or for it to be easily diagnosed because symptoms are common to many other conditions.
How would I notice if I was zinc deficient?
Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with enzymatic reactions, binding to electron-rich cell proteins to interact with amino acid side chains. But what does this actually mean for your general health and wellbeing? You might notice some of the following if you become deficient:
- a loss of appetite
- occasional moodiness
- numbed smell and taste
- immune system compromised: for example, getting a lot of colds
- diarrhoea or ‘leaky gut’
- increased allergies sensitivity
If you notice these symptoms, you should have your doctor check your zinc levels, and they can then prescribe a specific dosage of zinc for you if needed.
Here are just some aspects of your health that zinc can help to maintain:
|Crimini mushrooms||Pumpkin seeds|
|Sea vegetables||Green peas|
|Raw milk and cheese||Beans|
Try to get these in an organic, unprocessed form. Also, try boiling, poaching and steaming (and avoid microwaving, frying and charbroiling) to ensure that the zinc is still absorbable when you eat.
Also, note that smoking can cause zinc deficiency, so it’s another really good reason to quit!
Restoring your zinc levels to their natural optimum can boost your bodily functions and help prevent health conditions. And, it’s so easy to achieve: with simple diet improvements and nutritional supplements, you could find a whole new lease of life!