Zinc has excellent health benefits and is one of the best minerals for the body, and it is one of the most abundant minerals.
What Are the Primary Benefits?
Scientists estimate that there are over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body that involve zinc, many of which take place in the immune system. Healthy levels are vital for proper metabolism of carbs and protein, along with the burning of fat/calories. Zinc works as a potent detoxifier and can help with proper growth and development, strengthen immunity, and increase the libido. Proper healing of the body requires adequate levels of zinc. Further, it is one of the best minerals for enhancing cognitive function like memory and concentration. The ears and eyes have the most concentrated levels of zinc, so many problems in these areas, especially vision problems and headaches, can be helped with supplementation.
Causes of Zinc Deficiency
Zinc deficiency can be detrimental to your health. Our high-stress, chaotic lifestyles, poor diets, veganism/vegetarianism, smoking, processed food intake, and excessive alcohol consumption can all lead to a zinc deficiency. We consume an average of only 47% of the recommended daily allowance of zinc. This leaves many openings for toxins like cadmium and copper to make their way through our system, both huge triggers to migraines. As I have mentioned in many previous articles, high stress levels can also lead to deficient levels and can be the culprit with migraine exacerbations.
Your Immune System and Zinc
Zinc plays a primary role in the production of white blood cells, which are the immune system champions. It also supports natural killer cells, which are the ones that fight off infections like bacteria, yeast, and viruses. It helps produce thymulin, which comes from the thymus gland. Low levels of thymulin can leave you susceptible to infections and severe migraine attacks. Zinc supplementation has been shown to reduce the length of time an illness stays in your body, and has also shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. Truly fighting off bacteria and other harmful infections in the body requires good levels to balance out the good with the bad.
Other Health Benefits of Zinc
Night blindness, in addition to being a trigger to headaches, can be caused by zinc deficiency. Supplementation can help improve vision, especially in the elderly. Copper is one of the most prominent toxins in our body, especially if you’re on birth control or hormone replacement therapy. Copper toxicity is a migraine trigger, but zinc can help flush it out of the system.
Eating disorders are unfortunately a common problem in the United States. Anorexia and bulimia can be major triggers to migraines and other health problems. Zinc deficiency is a major problem in these disorders; however, supplementation can help the body regulate its metabolism and weight by increasing the person’s desire to eat healthy foods, and keeping them healthy in the process. It is an excellent mineral to help regulate the blood sugar as well. It assists in the production of insulin and the protection of insulin receptors, which regulates the metabolism. Anyone with insulin resistance should consider supplementing with zinc and adding more zinc-rich foods to their diet.
Best Foods that Have Zinc
Nearly everyone in the U.S. needs more zinc in their diet, especially if you consume processed foods or very little to no meat. The best food sources for zinc include:
- Red meats
Nuts, grains, and legumes are great healthy food sources with many benefits, but they can inhibit zinc absorption, so they should be limited. The same goes for dairy products.
How to Know if You Have Zinc Deficiency
There are many signs of deficiency, including:
- Ringing in the ears
- White spots on the nails
- Loss of smell or taste
- Brittle nails and hair loss
- Poor immunity
- Sleep problems
- Skin conditions
- Low sex drive
- Menstrual cycle problems
- Food allergies
These are just a few symptoms of low zinc levels, but they are the most common. If you are still uncertain, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about testing for low zinc levels and the benefits of supplementation!
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