The element Zinc has been getting a lot of press lately and rightfully so as it plays many essential roles in the human body.
My first experience with Zinc was in the 1990’s when after a week of being sick with the flu, I woke up feeling OK, but I had completely lost my sense of taste and smell. To describe the sensation, everything tasted or smelled BROWN. I know that is weird, but it was how I reacted. A good friend and surfing buddy suggested I might have a brain tumor, which I quickly discounted. That being said, I had no clue as to the cause. One day I was talking to my mom about it asking her if she had ever experienced such a thing. Her answer was no, but within a few weeks, I got an article from her that she had cut out of a Parade magazine that came with the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times.
In a nutshell, the article said that many times, the loss of taste and smell might be due to a deficiency in cellular Zinc. Having put up with this issue for about 2 months, I was ready to try anything. I immediately went out and bought a Zinc supplement. Two days after I began taking this Zinc, all of my senses of taste and smell had returned. To say the least, I was quite impressed and elated. Not being as inquisitive as I am now and with no instant access to all of the information we have at our fingertips today, I had no clue as to why zinc fixed the problem. Today, I know a lot more.
It turns out that Zinc, as with all the mineral elements, is a catalyst for all of our cellular enzymes constructed by our cells out of amino acids and vitamins to perform the specific functions they have evolved to accomplish.
One of Zinc’s most important functions is to maintain a healthy and properly functioning immune system. When we do not have adequate levels of Zinc in our cells and bloodstream we can become vulnerable to opportunistic bacteria, viruses and other microbes. This can lead to us becoming sick requiring us to stop our daily functioning and rest until we recover. The process of recovery continues to require more Zinc, which is then pirated from other organs. Two of them are our olfactory and taste organs. When they run out of Zinc, our sense of taste and smell become weakened or halted completely.
This is exactly what happened to me. I believe it may be the cause of people losing the desire to eat, defined as anorexia. If nothing tastes or smells good, why eat it? This is also demonstrated by the Zinc taste test. If you drink a Zinc liquid supplement and you do not taste it, you are most likely very deficient in Zinc. Why? Because the body’s ability to taste has become severely compromised. The more you can taste the Zinc, the better your taste buds are working because of adequate levels of Zinc in the tissues. Zinc may also play a role in other eating disorders as well.
A new finding by Dr. Dale Bredesen, MD and discussed in his new book "The End Of Alzheimer's", is the relationship of neurological dis-eases of this sort and one's Zinc to Copper ratio. In the blood, this ratio ZN/CU averages 1/1 or 1 part Zinc to 1 part Copper. In the hair the optimum ratio of these 2 elements is 8/1.
Cellular levels are more appropriate to look at for one's overall health and functioning while blood levels out of balance are reflective of acute issues which should be addressed with mineral supplementation immediately. Blood tests of people experiencing memory loss and other neurological issues are reflecting dramatic imbalances in this ratio with Copper being the elevated element. According to Dr. Bredesen, Zinc supplementation has shown to be effective in ameliorating many memory and nerve function issues being experienced by more and more people today.
In addition to being essential for proper immune functioning, taste and smell, and memory, Zinc plays numerous roles in other physiological functions of the human body including:
Sexual organ maturation and health
Copper management and balance
DNA and RNA production
Body odor control
Eye health including night blindness and cataracts
This list is only a small portion of the many functions of Zinc in the body. Needless to say, it is a critical element required daily for optimal bodily functioning. Including it in your daily supplement regime will greatly improve your overall health and wellness.
In good health,
Rick Wagner, C.N.,M.S.