Top5 ~ Think Zinc!

I will always remember my second year lecturer telling us when it came to teenage boys “Think zinc!”

I just felt like swimming.

I just felt like swimming.

1. Reproductive development and function: 

Zinc is highly concentrated in the tissue of the prostate gland, which plays a role in the production of semen. Loss of semen results in a loss of zinc stores, so you can appreciate why youthful males are at risk for zinc deficiency!

Zinc is vitally important to the healthy functioning of both the female and male reproductive systems, participating in the development of the female egg, the structure and activity of hormones as well as playing an anti-oxidant role, for example: protecting sperm from oxidative damage and the prostate gland from cancer.

Low zinc levels may be a contributing factor to infertility and low libido; and delayed sexual maturation in the young.

FYI, it's the female reproductive system..!

FYI, it’s the female reproductive system..!

2. Regulation of genetic expression:

Within each cell lies its powerhouse: the nucleus and within the nucleus are many hundreds and thousands of genes just waiting to give instruction to the cell as to what it is to do exactly. Zinc assists in the correct reading of instructions to the cell.

The risks of a zinc deficient diet are that instructions are misread or not read at all.

One important instruction is that of gene-directed cell death (apoptosis [apo-tosis]) which is critical to growth, development and certain diseases: in that, poorly controlled cell death can interfere with optimal growth and development and contribute to chronic diseases.

3. Insulin activity and blood sugar levels:

Insulin is a hormone and carrier protein that assists the uptake of glucose from the blood into the tissues. Zinc binds to insulin retaining it as a store in the pancreas and ensuring its release when glucose arrives on the scene.

Zinc also binds to cell membranes, effectively opening the gate for glucose to enter. This is known as insulin sensitivity.

  • If a cell is receptive to insulin it is sensitive to insulin and will allow glucose inside, regulating a healthy blood glucose level.
  • If a cell is not receptive to insulin it will not properly receive glucose and as such, glucose will remain in the blood stream leading to the deleterious affects of high blood glucose which ultimately lead to Diabetes.
Here is a cell. "Knock knock" says glucose, "will you let me in?" "Not without zinc!" says the cell.

Here is a cell. “Knock knock” says glucose, “will you let me in?” “Not without zinc!” says the cell.

4. Thyroid function:

Reduced thyroid function may be correlated to low zinc levels. Zinc’s affects on thyroid function include synthesis of thyroid hormone and mode of action. One of the ways zinc functions is via the transcription of genes for thyroid hormone, as explained in point 2.

5. Immunity:

Specific cells of the immune system, macrophages (the immune cells that eat invading cells), T-cells and B-cells depend on zinc for their function. Zinc deficiency results in a decline in immune cell function.

Zinc is required for wound healing and is of particular aid to the cells of the mucous membranes, including the lining of the gut: and as our guts are a significant part of our immune system – keeping foreign particles from the blood stream and ensuring nutrient uptake and waste elimination.

Zinc does SO much more, I could write a lengthy article on its virtues. But I have chosen five key functions that I think are of applicable interest.

Testing for zinc deficiency:

One at-home way to test for zinc deficiency is via the use of a zinc taste test. As zinc is involved in our sensation of taste and smell, a deficiency will result in impaired sensations of both. You can visit the pharmacy or a health food store to purchase one of these tests, which is a liquid that you hold in your mouth.

Much room for mushrooms in your diet!

Much room for mushrooms in your diet!

Food sources of zinc:

Zinc is stored in tissues and as such, the richest sources of it are in animal flesh and egg yolk; but non-animal sources include: spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds (understand my artwork now?!), sesame seeds, oats, green peas and miso.

Vegetarians are at risk of zinc deficiency and ought to be mindful of regularly consuming food sources of zinc.

If you suffer recurring infection, symptoms related to hormonal imbalance, low libido, poor or slow wound healing, loss of taste or smell then it is a cracking idea to have your zinc status tested and get on top of it with supplementation* and specific dietary adjustments.

*Supplementation with zinc must be within tight parameters of between 30 – 50mg/day as zinc can interfere with levels of other nutrients and cause toxicity symptoms also. Specifically zinc and copper dance a dangerous tango if one or the other is too abundant.

I take a practitioner-only zinc supplement, day in and day out for a month or so and then I ease off for another month or so, and take it when I know an infection is coming on. During pregnancy I take it day on and day off and I make sure to eat plenty of it as the food sources come combination-deal packed with other minerals that ensure a healthy balance of minerals.

There are a couple of good retail zinc supplements available, my pick is the Ethical Nutrients Zinc Maintain.

I also add a zinc liquid to SP’s sippy cup, which she can’t taste so it’s a winner. I’m not sure if there’s a zinc liquid on the retail market, but a natural health practitioner such as myself would be able to supply it for you upon consultation.

With the cold’n’flu season well set in I highly advise turning attention to zinc in your diet and supplement regime if you don’t already.

~Yours with images of horny teenage boys, the dirty little rotters! K180, x












  1. Christie @ Fig & Cherry says:

    Great post Katie, LOVE your photos!!! So clever. I saw the first one and thought – is it? No your mind is just dirty, it’s probably a strand of DNA or something, but I was right! Kudos to your modeling skills :)

    Love my pumpkin and sesame seeds in my morning homemade muesli so looks like zinc has been accidentally, deliciously covered! So informative, thank you xx

    • Katie180 says:

      Christie you can count on me to craft genitals etc from food stuffs anytime. I once made a penis shaped cake for my mate and took it in on the train to the office we worked at. It was FUN! x

  2. Theresa says:

    Thanks. I am on prescription zinc liquid 1ml
    In 100ml water 2x daily. Just wondering how
    Much an 8 yr old child could have in his drink? He has growth & immunity issues, and I hormonal. A great post. Thank you again.

    • Katie180 says:

      Hi Theresa,

      The recommended daily intake for children 10 years and under is 10mg per day, but in a child with the issues you’ve mentioned I’d be popping in to a health food store to ask one of qualified naturopath or nutritionist staff for guidance before beginning a supplement regime as such.
      Cheers, Katie.

  3. What a great post. We struggle with zinc deficiency (and high levels of copper) in our family so it is always wonderful to read anything about it on a level I can understand! Thanks Katie x

  4. I love zinc. It smashes the life on my cold in half every time!

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