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Zinc - A Vital Mineral

Zinc is a trace mineral that has been shown to be deficient in some New Zealand soils, so it is a particularly important mineral to monitor.

It is not the easiest mineral to be absorbed. Due to our western diet only about 15% to 60% of dietary zinc is actually absorbed.
Phytates & fibre (which occur naturally. in whole grains, legumes, nuts & seeds) bind with the zinc slowing it's absorption. Some of these foods can be soaked or cooked to lesson their phytate content.
However, when you eat high phytate foods with most of your meals, mineral deficiencies may develop over time.
If a diet is deficient in zinc the body is a very cleaver & will increase it's uptake.
As long as a balanced diet (with a wide variety of foods) is being consumed, there should be no major problems. Meat poultry & seafood are the best sources of zinc, with oysters being particularly high. Milk fruit & vegetables generally are low in zinc.
However, if someone is living on a high wheat/bran diet or eating excessive amounts of grains they could be loosing more zinc than they should.
The phytates bind to the mineral & withdraw the zinc from the body via our faeces.
Zinc is vital for strong immune health & to complete some metabolic pathways, zinc must be present. It is essential for growth, physical development & virtually every enzyme reaction in the brain involves zinc.
A zinc deficiency early in life results in impaired growth & sexual development. In studies of zinc deficient rats, the female rats fail to have a cycle & the males show atrophy (wasting away) of the testicles & do not produce sperm.
When our immune system is sluggish wounds are slow to heal - this is just one sign of zinc deficiency. Taste & smell can also be adversely affected. This essential mineral is involved with immunity, insulin, thyroid function, reproduction, digestion & is important for prostrate health. Severe zinc deficiency results in impairment of the immune system & increased infections.
Zinc levels will drop from normal levels during times of severe illness or inflammation, so it is a great choice for supplementation over winter months & seasonal changes. It is helpful in preventing & shortening the duration of a respiratory illness & is best taken at the first sign of infection. The immune system involves a large array of signalling proteins & DNA binding proteins which require zinc, as is required for alcohol dehydrogenase (an enzyme required for alcohol metabolism) consequently high alcohol intake will lower your immunity.
Zinc is relatively non - toxic, however large ongoing doses  can interfere with the intake of the other minerals & can in fact lower immunity. Like many natural & orthodox medications, if correct dosing is not followed, you can start to create what you are trying to treat, so please consult with your health professional where necessary.
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