Zinc is considered an essential nutrient, meaning that your body can’t produce or store it. For this reason, you must get a constant supply through your diet.
Zinc is important for many essential functions in your body. It supports immunity, energy production, hormone function, mood and the cardiovascular system.
The body uses Copper in energy production and to support bone, skin, and neurological and cardiovascular health.
Zinc and copper are two essential minerals that balance each other out. If you take too much zinc, this can decrease copper levels in your body, but together they create a powerful antioxidant enzyme (copper-zinc superoxide dismutase), which is a critical defense against oxidative stress.
Dietary Zinc and Copper intake has fallen over the past hundred years due to modern farming practices. Modern fruits, vegetables and conventional meats are lower in mineral and vitamin content.
Zinc needs to be replenished daily because it is only stored for short periods of time.
Unlike Zinc, Copper can readily accumulate in the body into toxic concentrations.
WHICH FOODS ARE HIGH IN ZINC?
- Animal sources contain a form of zinc that your body easily absorbs
- Meat: Beef, Pork, Lamb, Bison
- Shellfish: Oysters, Crab, Mussels, Lobster, Clams
- Fish: Flounder, Sardines, Salmon, Sole
- Plant-Based sources are absorbed less efficiently because of other plant compounds that inhibit absorption
- Legumes: Chickpeas, Lentils, Black Beans, Kidney Beans
- Seeds: Hemp, Pumpkin, Sesame
- Whole Grains: Quinoa, Oats, Rice
- Certain Vegetables: Mushrooms, Kale, Peas, Asparagus, Beet Greens, Potatoes, Green Beans
- Dark Chocolate
WHICH FOODS ARE HIGH IN COPPER?
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Leafy Greens
- Nuts & Seeds (Almonds, Cashews, Sesame Seeds)
- Dark Chocolate
WHAT DOES ZINC DO?
- Helps your immune system defend against viruses and bacteria
- Supports your body’s protein production
- Helps your body make DNA (genetic material in all cells)
- Supports your senses of Smell and Taste. Because one of the enzymes crucial for proper taste and smell is dependent Zinc, a zinc deficiency can reduce your ability to taste or smell.
- Helps wounds heal
- Fundamental to Skin Health
- Helps reduce your risk of age-related diseases
WHO IS AT RISK FOR ZINC DEFICIENCY?
- People who consume large amounts of alcohol
- Pregnant and Lactating women
- Older infants who are exclusively breastfed
- People who consume too much copper
- People who are malnourished, including those with anorexia or bulimia
- People who are not absorbing nutrients effectively
- Those Taking Acid Blockers
- Those Who Have Gut Dysbiosis/Leaky Gut
- People with Certain Diseases
- Chronic Renal Disease
- Chronic Liver Disease
- Sickle Cell Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF MILD ZINC DEFICIENCY?
- Decreased Immunity
- Thinning Hair
- Decreased Appetite
- Mood Disturbances
- Dry Skin
- Fertility Issues
- Impaired Wound Healing
WHAT ARE SIGNS OF GETTING TOO MUCH ZINC?
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach Cramps
- Low Copper Levels
- Lower Immunity
- Low Levels of ‘Good’ Cholesterol – HDL
WHAT ARE SIGNS OF A ZINC/COPPER IMBALANCE? (Most likely from elevated copper & low zinc)
- Night Blindness
- Macular Degeneration
- Emotional Disturbances
- Stress Intolerance
- Frequent Panic Attacks & Headaches
- Slow Wound Healing
- Chronic Infections/Illnesses
- Mental Lethargy
- Chronic Fatigue
- GI Issues, Diarrhea
- Reduced Appetite/Weight Loss
- Skin Issues: Acne/Eczema
- Difficulty Digesting/Absorbing Protein
WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED DAILY INTAKE (RDI) OF ZINC?
- Men – 11 mg/day
- Women – 8 mg/day
- Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women – 12 mg/day
- Unless a medical condition is hindering absorption, you should easily reach the RDI for zinc though diet alone
- High-Dose zinc supplements can lead to dangerous side effects
- Follow recommendations from your health professional and only take supplements when necessary. Typically a ratio of 15 mg of Zinc to 1 mg of Copper is recommended.
- Ingesting too much zinc can cause deficiencies in other nutrients, like copper and iron
- If you take supplements, choose chelated forms (the zinc is attached to an amino acid which makes it easier to pass into your intestines for absorption) like Zinc Picolinate (Thorne Brand or NOW Brand) or Zinc Orotate (Solgar Brand or Bulletproof Zinc/Copper). Stay away from Zinc Oxide which is poorly absorbed
ARE YOU CURIOUS ABOUT YOUR LEVELS OF ZINC AND COPPER?
- Try Thorne’s at-home Heavy Metals Test
- This test provides insight into levels of heavy metals – cadmium, lead, and mercury – as well as the essential minerals zinc, copper, magnesium, and selenium, along with a personalized plan for optimizing your health.