Lack of Zinc Hurts DigestionJune 20, 2016
Lack of Zinc Hurts Digestion
How much do you know about zinc? Likely not much. It's element # 30 in the periodic table but is probably important because it has the same chemical reactivity as magnesium, and we have dozens of important proteins that use zinc's properties to function properly. One example: it's the most abundant trace mineral in the brain.
The World Health Organization says that about 2 billion of us are zinc deficient, making it one of the planet's most important deficiencies. Humans have used it for a very long time mixing it with copper to make brass, and in America, with nickel to make most of our coins. In humans zinc and copper appear to work like a teeter-totter, one rises as the other falls. Too much copper results in lower zinc. Too much zinc, you can wipe out copper. You want a balance with a bit more zinc than copper to stop cognitive decline.
That's what this study gets to. The question is, what happens when you are modestly deficient? We do know from research on Alzheimer's that being deficient accelerates cognition loss, and replacing it stops that loss. This paper was about digestion. The researchers took piglets and gave them precisely tuned diets of various amounts of zinc. What they found surprised them. There was an almost immediate drop in pancreatic enzyme secretion. With that loss of pancreatic enzymes, there was a commensurate drop in nutrient absorption. With that, there was more food left in the gut and the animal didn't eat much. It had a full gut, but it wouldn't grow.
This dramatic and early shift in production of energy highlights the important role the pancreas plays in regulating the flow of energy into the body and the subsequent access of energy by the individual. Where do you typically get zinc from? Oysters are by far and away the best source, as are all seafoods. Red meat and poultry are good sources too. Beans, nuts, and whole grains come in down the list. This is one place where meat and animal products provide a higher level of micronutrients than plants.
Vegans may need to pay attention. Magnesium wins with plants. And then there is zinc and hormones, zinc and immunity but those are whole other columns.
WWW. What will work for me? I've been measuring zinc and copper a lot recently and just about all of us have too much copper and not enough zinc. I am personally taking zinc daily, having found my zinc-copper ratio to be inverted. I have copper pipes in my home.
1. The best food source of zinc is? Answer: Oysters. And seafood. Animal foods.
2. If you are zinc deficient, what happens in your pancreas? Answer: You stop putting out digestive enzymes and food isn't digested. (If you are a piglet, which likely extends to humans, but not proven.)
3. How many people on planet earth are zinc deficient? Answer: About 2 billion. That may include you
4. Zinc and copper work together like a teeter totter. We get too much copper in our environment. The conjecture is from where? Answer: Our copper plumbing
5. Alzheimer's sufferers have too much zinc. T or F Answer: False. Dramatically not enough. And one study shows their dementia slowing just with zinc supplementation.