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1746, Zinc Discovered

The following content provided by my business partner, USANA, the Cellular Nutrition Company.


Zinc is a cofactor for more than 300 enzymes needed for cell function in the eyes, kidneys, muscles, skin, and bones. As a component of metalloenzymes, zinc provides structural integrity to the enzyme and/or participates directly in the reaction at the catalytic site.

Zinc also serves as a necessary structural component of DNA-binding proteins that affect gene expression (the so-called “zinc finger”).

Alcohol dehydrogenase contains four zinc ions per molecule. This enzyme is important in the conversion of retinol to retinal (needed for proper vision). Zinc also appears to provide an additive effect to other antioxidants involved in supporting visual acuity.

Another of zinc’s important physiological roles involves cell membranes. Zinc affects the activity of enzymes attached to plasma membranes. Some of these enzymes include alkaline phosphatase, carbonic anhydrase, and superoxide dismutase. Zinc also directly affects cell membranes by stabilizing phospholipids and thiol groups that need to be maintained in a reduced state to prevent peroxidative damage.

As a cofactor for many enzymes, zinc frees the vitamin folate so it can move across cell membranes. It also aids in the manufacture of heme and in essential fatty acid metabolism, and it helps release vitamin A from its storage place in the liver.

Meat, liver, eggs, and seafood are considered good food sources of zinc.

High intakes of zinc for an extended period of time can negatively affect copper absorption. Generally, zinc intake is considered completely safe at levels below 60mg/d.

The following content provided by the Linus Pauling Institute

Summary of Zinc
·       Zinc is a nutritionally essential mineral needed for catalytic, structural, and regulatory functions in the body. (More information)

·       Severe zinc deficiency is a rare, genetic or acquired condition. Dietary zinc deficiency, often called marginal zinc deficiency, is quite common in the developing world, affecting an estimated 2 billion people. (More information)

·       The RDA for adult men and women is 11 mg/day and 8 mg/day of zinc, respectively. 

·       Zinc deficiency can cause impaired growth and development in children, pregnancy complications, and immune dysfunction and increased susceptibility to infections. 

·       Zinc supplementation has been studied as a possible treatment for the common cold, age-related macular degeneration, diabetes mellitus, and HIV/AIDS.

Zinc bioavailability is relatively high in meat, eggs, and seafood; zinc is less bioavailable from whole grains and legumes due to the inhibitory effects of phytic acid on absorption of the mineral. 

Long-term consumption of zinc in excess of the tolerable upper intake level (40 mg/day for adults) can result in copper deficiency.

Function's of Zinc
Numerous aspects of cellular metabolism are zinc-dependent. Zinc plays important roles in growth and development, the immune response, neurological function, and reproduction. On the cellular level, the function of zinc can be divided into three categories: (1) catalytic, (2) structural, and (3) regulatory.

Catalytic role
Over 300 different enzymes depend on zinc for their ability to catalyze vital chemical reactions. Zinc-dependent enzymes can be found in all known classes of enzymes.

Structural role
Zinc plays an important role in the structure of proteins and cell membranes. A finger-like structure, known as a zinc finger motif, stabilizes the structure of a number of proteins. For example, copper provides the catalytic activity for the antioxidant enzyme copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD), while zinc plays a critical structural role. The structure and function of cell membranes are also affected by zinc. Loss of zinc from biological membranes increases their susceptibility to oxidative damage and impairs their function.

Regulatory role
Zinc finger proteins have been found to regulate gene expression by acting as transcription factors(binding to DNA and influencing the transcription of specific genes). Zinc also plays a role in cell signalingand has been found to influence hormone release and nerve impulse transmission. Zinc has been found to play a role in apoptosis (gene-directed cell death), a critical cellular regulatory process with implications for growth and development, as well as a number of chronic diseases.

Nutrient interactions
Taking large quantities of zinc (50 mg/day or more) over a period of weeks can interfere with copper bioavailability. High intake of zinc induces the intestinal synthesis of a copper-binding protein called metallothionein. Metallothionein traps copper within intestinal cells and prevents its systemic absorption (see the separate article on Copper). More typical intakes of zinc do not affect copper absorption, and high copper intake is unlikely to affect zinc absorption unless zinc intakes are already very low.

Supplemental (38-65 mg/day of elemental iron) but not dietary levels of iron may decrease zinc absorption. This interaction is of concern in the management of iron supplementation during pregnancy and lactation and has led some experts to recommend zinc supplementation for pregnant and lactating women taking more than 60 mg/day of elemental iron.

High levels of dietary calcium impair zinc absorption in animals, but it is uncertain whether this occurs in humans. One study showed that increasing the calcium intake of postmenopausal women by 890 mg/day in the form of milk or calcium phosphate (total calcium intake, 1,360 mg/day) reduced zinc absorption and zinc balance in postmenopausal women, However, another study found that increasing the calcium intake of adolescent girls by 1,000 mg/day in the form of calcium citrate malate (total calcium intake, 1,667 mg/day) did not affect zinc absorption or balance.

Calcium in combination with phytic acid or phytate might affect zinc absorption, which would be particularly relevant to individuals who very frequently consume tortillas made with lime (i.e., calcium oxide). A study in 10 healthy women (age range, 21-47 years) found that high intake of dietary calcium (~1,800 mg/day) did not further impair zinc absorption of a high-phytate diet. For more information on phytic acid, see Food sources below.

The bioavailability of dietary folate is increased by the action of a zinc-dependent enzyme, suggesting a possible interaction between zinc and folic acid. In the past, some studies found low zinc intake decreased folate absorption, while other studies found folic acid supplementation impaired zinc utilization in individuals with marginal zinc status. However, a more recent study reported that supplementation with a relatively high dose of folic acid (800 μg/day) for 25 days did not alter zinc status in a group of students being fed low-zinc diets (3.5 mg/day); level of zinc intake did not impair folate utilization in this study.

Vitamin A
Zinc and vitamin A interact in several ways. Zinc is a component of retinol-binding protein, a protein necessary for transporting vitamin A in the blood. Zinc is also required for the enzyme that converts retinol (vitamin A) to retinal. This latter form of vitamin A is necessary for the synthesis of rhodopsin, a protein in the eye that absorbs light and thus is involved in dark adaptation. Zinc deficiency is associated with decreased release of vitamin A from the liver, which may contribute to symptoms of night blindness that are seen with zinc deficiency.

The following content provided by the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Zinc Overview
Zinc is an essential trace mineral, so you get it through the foods you eat. Next to iron, zinc is the most common mineral in the body and is found in every cell. It has been used since ancient times to help heal wounds and plays an important role in the immune system, reproduction, growth, taste, vision, and smell, blood clotting, and proper insulin and thyroid function.

Zinc also has antioxidant properties, meaning it helps protect cells in the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals may contribute to the aging process, as well as the development of a number of health problems, including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

Your body doesn't need a large amount of zinc. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 8 - 11 mg. It’s common to have slightly low levels of zinc, but taking a multivitamin, plus eating a healthy diet, should give you all the zinc you need.

Some studies suggest that taking oral zinc supplements may help improve acne. However, most studies used a high dose of zinc that could have toxic effects, and not all studies found any benefit. There is some evidence that a topical form of zinc, used along with the topical antibiotic erythromycin, might be helpful.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration(AMD) 
Doctors often recommend zinc to slow the progress of AMD, an eye disease that occurs when the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision starts to deteriorate. A major clinical trial, the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS1), found that people who had macular degeneration could slow down the damage by taking zinc (80 mg), vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin E (400 mg), beta-carotene (15 mg), and copper (2 mg). If you have macular degeneration, ask your doctor whether these vitamins and minerals might help you. This is a very large amount of zinc and should only be used under a doctor's supervision.

A new study, AREDS2, is examining exactly what role zinc plays in macular degeneration.

Sickle Cell Disease
People who have sickle cell disease are often deficient in zinc. Studies suggest that taking zinc supplements may help reduce symptoms of the disease. Children who took zinc showed improvements in height and weight, and had fewer sickle-cell crises.

Stomach Ulcers
Some studies suggest that zinc may help speed the healing of stomach ulcers. The studies used a form of zinc not available in the U.S.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
For children who have low levels of zinc, some evidence suggests that taking zinc may cause a slight improvement in symptoms, reducing hyperactivity, impulsivity, and impaired socialization in children. However, there was no change in attention deficit symptoms. Zinc may be most helpful to children with a high body mass index, low levels of free fatty acids in their blood, and low levels of zinc.

Herpes simplex (Cold Sores)
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. In one study, people with cold sores used either a zinc oxide cream or placebo every 2 hours until their cold sores got better. Those who used the zinc cream had fewer symptoms and got better faster.

Possible Interactions with Zinc
If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use zinc without first talking to your health care provider.

Amiloride (Midamor) -- Amiloride is a potassium-sparing diuretic (water pill) that may increase the levels of zinc in your blood. Do not take zinc supplements if you take amiloride.

Blood pressure medications, ACE Inhibitors -- A class of medications called ACE inhibitors, used to treat high blood pressure, may decrease the levels of zinc in your blood. ACE inhibitors include:

Antibiotics -- Zinc may decrease your body's absorption of two kinds of antibiotics, quinolones and tetracyclines. 

Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) -- This drug, used for chemotherapy to treat some types of cancers, may cause more zinc to be lost in your urine. If you are undergoing chemotherapy, do not take zinc or any other supplement without talking to your oncologist.

Deferoxamine (Desferal) -- This medication, used to remove excess iron from the blood, also increases the amount of zinc that is lost in urine.

Immunosuppressant medications -- Since zinc may make the immune system stronger, it should not be taken with corticosteroids (such as prednisone), cyclosporine, or other medications intended to suppress the immune system.

Penicillamine -- This medication, used to treat Wilson's disease (where excess copper builds up in the brain, liver, kidney, and eyes) and rheumatoid arthritis, decreases the levels of zinc in your blood.

Thiazide diuretics (water pills) -- These medications lower the amount of zinc in your blood by increasing the amount of zinc that is passed in your urine. If you take thiazide diuretics, your doctor will monitor levels of zinc and other important minerals in your blood.

The following content provided by Organic Facts
The health benefits of zinc include proper functioning of the immune and digestive systems, control of diabetes, reduction of stress levels, improves metabolism, and an increased rate of healing for acne and wounds.

15 Incredible Benefits Of Zinc
1) Skin Care: Studies have shown zinc to be an effective home remedy for curing pimples and acne. This mineral is important for eliminating acne from the skin. It regulates and controls the amount of testosterone in the body, which plays a dominant role in causing acne. 

2) Eczema: Also called “atopic dermatitis”, eczema is an inflammatory and chronic disorder of the skin, and it is mainly caused by deficiency of zinc in the body. Zinc plays an important role in healing chronic infections and assists the body in restoring its ability to heal properly and completely.

3) Prostate disorder: Zinc is very important in dealing with prostate disorders. Its deficiency causes enlargement of the prostate gland and makes it vulnerable to cancer. It is advisable to take 15mg of zinc everyday, under close medical observation, when suffering from prostate disorder.

4) Cognitive Function: Recent research has shown zinc to have a strong impact on mental function, because it can pair up with vitamin B6 to ensure the proper function of neurotransmitters that communicate with the body. It is also found in high concentrations in the hippocampus, which controls thought and memory. For those who have suffered from an injury, extra zinc will keep brain function strong, because the body naturally diverts zinc to the other parts of the body for healing purposes.

5) Sense of Smell and Taste: Zinc is one of the most important elements for a healthy life, but it has some very unique benefits as well, including the improvement of the senses of taste and smell. Taste buds and olfactory cells are zinc-reliant, and it is necessary for the proper development and growth of those specific cells.

6) Cold and Infections: Zinc supplements help in decreasing the severity and duration of colds and other mild illnesses. It reduces the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which aggravate the body during colds or other infections. Also, it’s ability to stimulate white blood cell activity makes it ideal for reducing colds and infections.

7) Weight loss: Zinc plays a leading role in weight loss for obese individuals. A number of studies have connected zinc with a decrease in appetite, which prevents overeating. This is related to zinc’s manipulation of the ghrelin hormone, which tells the body when it wants to eat.

8) Pregnancy and Reproduction: Zinc is essential for the repair and functioning of DNA. It is essential for rapid growth of cells and for the building of major constituents of the cell over the course of a pregnancy. So much development and enzymatic activity takes place during pregnancy that it is one of the most important nutrients for infants and mothers.

9) Antioxidant: Zinc acts as an antioxidant and is involved in some of the biochemically decisive reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, enzymatic function and carbohydrate metabolism. Since zinc is involved in so many integral systems and functions of the body, it cannot be stressed enough – You must have zinc in your diet!

10) Enzyme regulation: Zinc is an essential component in a number of enzymes that help in regulating cell growth, protein synthesis, hormonal level, DNA, regulating gene transcription, energy metabolism and other related functions.

11) Cancer: In males, zinc plays a vital role in the prostate gland and prevents premature damage or strain, which can lead to problemslike cancer. The natural antioxidant properties of zinc means that it actively seeks out free radicals, the hazardous byproducts of cell metabolism that can cause a number of diseases.

12) Chronic Fatigue: People suffering from chronic fatigue are usually told to consume fish oil, as it is rich in zinc. Many doctors suggestno other medications for curing chronic fatigue except to start consuming fish oil.

13) Alopecia: Alopecia causes loss of hair in both children and adults. Doctors often tell people suffering from this condition to seriously boost their intake of zinc in their diet. Since zinc is so beneficial for hair strength and integrity, the symptoms of alopecia can sometimes be diminished.

14) Bone loss: This is a condition  when the bones become weak and fragile. Zinc is a component of hydroxyapatite, which is a salt and makes the bone matrix strong and hard.

15) Night blindness: Consuming Zinc in quantities of about 150-450 mg will help to improve your vision. Therefore, it is always recommended to consume food like beef, lamb, oysters, buckwheat and crabs as they are rich in zinc content and will improve the ability to see, and is particularly helpful for those suffering from night blindness.

Suggested Food Sources:

Pumpkin Seeds
Cherry Summer Slaw with Verjus and Wild Ramp Dressing

7-11-11Asparagus, Collard & Swiss Chard Salad

Pear Walnut Flapjacks with Pear Brandy Maple Syrup

Charred Chipotle Creamed Corn and Peppers

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