Zinc isn’t a super glamorous mineral in the online world. This is too bad, considering its role as a cofactor (that means it helps facilitate chemical reactions in the body) in over 300 known bodily functions!
Most notably, zinc is responsible for helping out our immune and digestive systems. This is because zinc is responsible for modulating the activity of nearly all cells in both the cellular and adaptive immune response. In English: there are cells in the body that respond directly in attacking foreign intruders in the body and there are cells that make compounds that troll around the body to mark things that need to be destroyed. Zinc helps all these cells to their jobs better.
A large majority of our immune cells are in our gut, so it makes sense that zinc can help both of these systems. But specifically, zinc deficiency has been implicated in the disruption of tight junctions in the gut lining, changes in the cell membrane permeability, and increased incidence of lining breakdown. That is all to say: zinc helps you keep the things that aren’t supposed to be absorbed out of your body. Without it, the wonderful protective barrier that is your intestinal tract can become compromised.
Zinc is also integral to the health of our skin and eyes. This is because zinc facilitates the activity of cells that aggregate at sites of epithelial/endothelial damage. A few examples of this are the zinc-dependent matrix metalloproteinases that clean up damaged tissues and the keratinocytes that migrate during wound repair. Zinc additionally helps skin cells be resistant to self-destruction upon exposure to reactive oxygen species and any toxins from the environment or bacteria.
It also has incredibly far reaching consequences on our reproductive and detoxification pathways. Zinc deficiency has been implicated in the decreased production of both FSH and LH, hormones that have everything to do with estrogen/progesterone production in the body and the regulation of menstrual cycles. In men, low levels of zinc can similarly hinder testosterone production. Directly related to hormone health are the detoxification pathways in the body. Zinc can help aid in the removal of toxins that “clog up” detoxification reactions in the body, restoring normal function.
Zinc is so important, in our opinions, that we include it as a suggested supplement in our 4 Phase Cycle Detox. This is because zinc is often lost through the act of menstruation and creation of hormones. Many of our ladies find the combination of smart and timely supplementation and with a cycle-syncing way of living to be TRANSFORMATIONAL!
I hope that’s enough to convince you that zinc, while not so initially glamorous, is so important to our overall health!
But definitely, don’t run out right away and throw money at a supplement. Zinc needs the synergistic activity of other nutrients, most notably copper, to function properly. Fortunately for us, nature has done an amazing job of pairing synergistic nutrient together already!
Top 7 Best Sources of Zinc from Whole Food Sources:
- Beef (grass fed beef is the #1 source! But beef from any source has quite a bit.)
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Crimini mushrooms
Bonus: there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t combine these ingredients together to get something truly filling, delicious, and highly healthful!!