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How zinc levels affect your immune system

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 by: Dr. David Jockers
Tags: zinc, immune system, mineral balance

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(NaturalNews) Zinc is a fundamental mineral and one of the most common deficiencies in the world. Zinc is essential to human and animal growth patterns and has an essential role in the development of hormones and immune molecules. Zinc is one of the best mineral supplements to boost and balance out a tired and overstimulated immune system.

Experts predict that almost 2 billion people, which is roughly 25% of the world's population, are deficient in zinc. This is thought to be from inadequate consumption through the individual's diet. From a functional health perspective, there is a lot more zinc deficiency in our society due to poor biochemical pathways.

When we have poor blood sugar signaling due to a diet that is high in sugar and carbohydrates, we are unable to adequately absorb zinc. Individuals with leaky gut syndrome are often deficient in zinc from poor absorption. Consuming high amounts of phytic acids in grains and legumes can adversely affect zinc levels. The regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) depletes zinc levels in the body as well.

Zinc is critical for immune health:

Zinc is critical for balancing the immune system and keeping the Th-1 and Th-2 systems in check. Zinc potentiates the action of the human cytokine interferon-alpha, a protein that inhibits viral replication. This reduces immunological stress and improves the immune coordination.

Zinc is also a component of specific enzymes in the body, including superoxide dismutatse enzymes (SODs). SOD is a powerful intracellular antioxidant that protects the cellular genomics and protects against viral infection and toxic debris accumulation within the cellular matrix.

Zinc reduces inflammatory conditions in the body:

When the immune system recognizes a pathogen, it sets off a series of molecules to create a process that activates the innate immune response. This process involves the nuclear factor-kappa beta (NF-kB) pathway. Healthy immunity depends upon sensitive NF-kB activity, but we must reduce the overstimulation of NF-kB, or we risk chronic inflammation.

Zinc plays an important role, as it binds to a protein within the NF-kB pathway that halts its activity. This is a programmed shutdown of the NF-kB pathway that reduces the effects of too much inflammatory activity within the cells. Without adequate zinc, the NF-kB pathway gets overstimulated and creates chronic inflammatory conditions that have been linked to degenerative disease processes.

Zinc helps reduce cancer cell growth:

Zinc's modulatory effect on NF-kB makes it a formidable player in the prevention of cancer cell growth patterns. It has been shown to decrease tumor cell angiogenesis and the induction of inflammatory cytokines. It also increases apoptosis (programmed cell death) in abnormal cell lines, which reduces the chances of cancer growth.

Research shows that zinc is particularly important in prostate and breast cancers. A 2012 study showed that individuals with the BRCA1 gene (strongly associated with breast cancer development) who had the highest levels of zinc had the lowest risk of cancer development. The study also showed that those with the lowest zinc levels had a significantly elevated risk of developing breast cancer.

Zinc and estrogen balance

In other research, Dr. David Watts reviewed the hair trace mineral reports of thousands of women and found that a pattern of elevated boron, copper and calcium levels with lower levels of zinc occurred in women with breast cancer. Dr. Watts' understanding is that boron and copper appear to make the body more sensitive to the stimulatory effects of estrogen and less responsive to the quieting effects of progesterone. Zinc is the mineral that aids in the production and utilization of progesterone, so this pattern of mineralization makes women less progesterone-responsive and more estrogen-sensitive. Raising zinc levels and lowering boron, copper and calcium levels can bring these women into mineral balance and help in the creation of hormonal balance.

The primary gene protecting men from prostate cancer and women from breast cancer is the TP53 gene. This is thought to be the guardian of the human genome. When this gene becomes mutated, it allows for the development of cancer. The gene requires zinc, and zinc deficiencies are shown to cause mutated versions of the TP53 gene to form. This dramatically raises the risk of breast and prostate cancer cell development.

How much zinc should you take in?

The best food sources of zinc include oysters, shellfish, meat, eggs, whole grains, nuts and seeds. I personally do not recommend oysters or shellfish due to toxic bioaccumulation in these animal sources. Grass-fed beef and organ meat and eggs from 100% pasture-raised animals are much better sources. Sprouted pumpkin, sunflower, hemp and chia seeds are also fantastic sources of zinc.

The recommended daily allowance for zinc is between 8 and 11 milligrams for most adults. However, for functional health, most progressive nutritionists and doctors recommend between 30 and 40 mg/day. Zinc can be a problem when one takes in more than 100 mg/day. It is best to get a combination of zinc complexes from zinc gluconate, zinc amino acid chelate and zinc citrate.

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About the author:
Dr David Jockers is a Maximized Living doctor and owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Georgia where he specializes in functional nutrition, functional medicine and corrective chiropractic care to get to the underlying cause of major health problems.

His website features great articles on natural health and incredible recipes. He is the author of the best-selling book SuperCharge Your Brain - the complete guide to radically improve your mood, memory and mindset. He has over 50,000 active followers on his social media and email newsletter and is a big influencer in the Primal Health movement.

Dr. Jockers is also available for long distance consultations and health coaching to help you beat disease and reach your health goals. For more information got to www.drjockers.com

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