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Discovering the Holistic Health Benefits of Zinc

August 15, 2013

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Zinc travels through biochemical pathways, carrying out specialised tasks along the way.

The best story was the life journey of a 20c piece. I was in primary school, and the whole class was writing their varied biographies for a 20c coin. Each of us envisaging the curious paths their coin would take throughout its lifetime. My 20c piece broke free from a money box and found its way through a crack in the floor, it was cycled through a vending machine for a pack of smarties and carried a wish from the hand of a young boy as it was flung into a wishing well.

I was reminded of my 20c coin recently, as I watched a seminar on the journey of molecules. The speaker told me to conjure a vivid childhood experience, then explained none of my physical self that was present then is here now; the molecules have moved on. He reminded me also, the molecules that compose my body originated from somewhere else too….

The calcium in my bones and teeth, once marinated in the ocean’s depths, came from the skeleton of coral or from the earth. The carbon arrived through the carbon cycle; a dance all of its own. Once part of me, they travel biochemical pathways, carrying out specialised tasks along the way.

When I think of Zinc, little solders in protective armour come to mind. Shielding my cells from oxidative stress, Zinc performs its antioxidant role. Vitamin E is protected by Zinc from oxidation, preserving it for various functions throughout my body.

Zinc is required for normal immune cell development and function, earning this mineral a reputation for important immune function support.  Vitamin C also enhances the immune system and provides antihistamine actions. This couple has a long romance, enjoying united antiviral actions (useful when I’ve had a cold sore).

Zinc plays Florence Nightingale of the body; speeding up healing processes after injury. Teamed again with Vitamin C they are integral to collagen synthesis, the couple work together to encourage wound healing and healthy skin. In fact 20% of the Zinc in my body resides in my skin. When we have acne, Zinc is there to assist the immune system in fighting the associated bacteria, and helping reduce the inflammation.

A delicious meal would not look, taste or smell the same without Zinc. My taste buds need Zinc for normal taste sense, as does olfaction; my sense of smell. My retina and macular require Zinc for healthy vision. As I age the levels of Zinc in these important structures recedes, making this mineral vital for future eye health.

Down in my gut, Zinc improves the lining integrity and stimulates the synthesis of digestive enzymes. Here Zinc can improve my assimilation of nutrients. Around 300 enzymes throughout my body need Zinc to function. Zinc activates enzymes into action, including insulin to regulate my blood sugar levels.

When it comes to men’s health, Zinc migrates south to support prostate health. Zinc is also key for men’s fertility, helping the development of healthy sperm and protecting them from oxidative stress. Good antioxidant status influences semen quality. Alternatively, low levels of Zinc are associated with a decrease in testosterone levels and sperm count, making Zinc vital to male fertility.

Zinc spends an important part of its lifetime orchestrating growth and development. In a growing fetus, Zinc supports the growth of the fetal brain, bones, teeth and nervous system. Zinc is also important for breast milk production, and lactation can deplete this important mineral.

Deep in my bones Zinc is needed for the uptake of calcium into the bone matrix. This is especially vital during my growth period as a child, down the track in pregnancy and for bone health in my mature years.

I am amazed by the intricate pathways of a mineral’s lifetimes; their journey driving the biological processes that keep me alive and healthy.

Peita Handel

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