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Let’s Talk About Zinc

Nuala Mcbride


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Let’s Talk About Zinc

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Zinc is needed in more than 200 enzymes and involved in more bodily functions then any other mineral (apart from magnesium). Zinc takes part in many metabolic processes related to the immune system, keeping cell membranes stable, forming new bone, night vision and tissue growth (Wright, and Lenard, 2001). Zinc is also an essential cofactor in a variety of cellular processes including DNA synthesis, behavioural functions, reproduction and red blood cell formation (Sircus, 2011). 

It has been estimated that 17% of the population is Zinc deficient (Belay, A. et al. 2021). A key deficiency sign of zinc is nails showing white spots and or curves, dents or mis-shapeness (Ballentine, 2007). In addition, zinc deficiency is linked with the mental / emotional sphere, such as depression, schizophrenia, hyperactivity etc.

Zinc tends to be found in higher quantities in darker meats (Ballentine, 2007) and is more readily absorbed from these sources (Mann & Truswell, 2011). A diet with a high presence of copper, phytates or low intake of protein can reduce absorption. Read more about protein intake here or protein here. Whereas, a diet with a high presence of amino acids (especially histamine) and lactose can increase absorption. Zinc competes with calcium and iron for absorption. 

After zinc is ingested it travels to the stomach where there are high levels of stomach acid. However, if a person’s stomach levels aren’t adequate (i.e. below a PH of 5.5) then their absorption may be impaired (Wright, and Lenard, 2001). It is mainly absorbed in the duodenum, but some is absorbed in the lower down in the small intestine (Mann & Truswell, 2002). Once absorbed, zinc is transported (by a number of different zinc transporters, such as ZiPs) to the liver bound to albumin.



Adamson JW. 2015. Iron deficiency and other hypoproliferative anemias. In: Longo DL, Fauci AS, Kasper DL, eds. Harrison’s online. 18th ed. Access Medicine. www.accessmedicine.com

American Association Of Hematology, 2020. Anemia. [online] Hematology.org. Available at: <https://www.hematology.org/education/patients/anemia> [Accessed 26 May 2020].

ARL, 2020. Allergies – ARL Is An Authority On Nutrition And The Science Of Balancing Body Chemistry Through Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis!. [online] ARL. Available at: <https://arltma.com/allergies/> [Accessed 19 May 2020].

Ballentine, R,. 2007. Diet & Nutrition – A Holistic Approach. 2nd ed. Himalayan Institute.

Belay, A. et al. (2021) “Zinc deficiency is highly prevalent and spatially dependent over short distances in Ethiopia,” Scientific Reports, 11(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-85977-x.

Mann, J. and Truswell, S. ed., 2002. Essentials Of Human Nutrition. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wright, J. and Lenard, L., 2001. Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You. 1st ed. New York: M. Evans.

NHS, 2020. Iron Deficiency Anaemia. [online] nhs.uk. Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/iron-deficiency-anaemia/> [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Sircus, M., 2011. Transdermal Magnesium Therapy. 1st ed. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.



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