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Checking in on Your Zinc Levels
By Jennifer Morganti, ND, NEEDS Director of Education

Zinc, like magnesium, is critical to hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body. And like magnesium, it's hard to accurately measure zinc levels in blood tests. Zinc is available in foods such as meat (especially beef), spinach, asparagus, and seeds like pumpkin and sesame, as well as other foods. How many Americans are zinc deficient? Sources say that up to 12% of all Americans may not consume the RDI for zinc. Considering that the RDI is a lower level than what our bodies ideally need (RDI is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men), 12% may be an underestimation. Many integrative doctors would suggest getting much higher doses of zinc, especially if digestion and absorption are compromised. Plus, if you fall into one of the high-risk categories, your risk for deficiency can escalate to almost 50%.

Am I at risk?
Are you in the Baby Boomer Generation?
As a senior, you have up to a 45% risk of being deficient in zinc. Part of the reason for this is due to poor absorption; as we age, gastric acid levels may decline, and that acidity is important for mineral absorption. As we age, our appetite may decrease, causing lower food intake and thus acquiring less zinc.

Are you a Vegetarian, or do you Limit Meat Consumption for Health Reasons?
If so, you have a 50% risk of being zinc deficient. Meat is our best source of absorbable zinc. Plant-based foods do contain zinc, but the mineral may be tightly bound to other compounds in the plant and not readily absorbed. If a plant-based diet is your choice, you would be wise to consider daily zinc supplementation.

There are several other issues that compromise zinc levels. Pregnancy is one because the growing fetus has high nutrient requirements. The National Institute of Health suggests that 30-50% of alcoholics have low zinc status due to alcohol interfering with zinc absorption. Digestive issues such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, malabsorption syndrome, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, and other chronic gastrointestinal diseases interfere with absorption and possibly accelerate excretion, causing zinc deficiency.

Research published in April 2015 has suggested that zinc is even more important than we realize. In an animal study, researchers found that zinc deficiency can limit the body's ability to regulate inflammation. Inflammation causes a cascade of health issues, such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease and compromised immunity.

Fortunately, it's easy to get a sense if you are zinc deficient without a lab test. Zinc Tally can help evaluate zinc status. If you can taste the zinc, you likely have adequate zinc levels, but if you can't taste it, you may be deficient. With a test this simple, there is no reason for zinc deficiency to go unchecked!

Zinc Tally may provide a simple method for evaluating zinc status. After placing 10 mL of Zinc Tally in the mouth, a lack of taste or a delayed taste perception suggests a possible zinc insufficiency. An immediate taste perception suggests zinc status may be adequate. Zinc Tally may also be taken as a supplement.

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