Zinc is a supplement mentioned in The Leaky Gut Meal Plan, but not in detail. So today I want to share why zinc is important for gut health.
Why Zinc is Important for Gut Health
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What is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes and it plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division.
The recommended daily allowances include:
Signs and symptoms of a zinc deficiency include:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Hair loss
- Impaired vision
- Loss of taste or smell
- Poor appetite
- Depressed mood
- Decreased immunity
- Delayed wound healing
- Histamine intolerance
- Skin ulcers and acne
A zinc deficiency isn’t extremely common. However, those with comprised guts are far more at risk than the average person due to absorption issues.
In fact, two groups of people who tend to have zinc deficiencies are those with a GI disorder or those who have a strict plant-based food diet.
Your Gut and Zinc
Here are some things we know:
- Zinc supplementation tightens “leaky gut” in Crohn’s disease. (source)
- Zinc deficiency can arise from several sources, and a major physiological effect of zinc deficiency will be to induce leakiness in tight junctional seals and consequently epithelial cell layers. (source)
- It is noteworthy that even in control, non disease states, zinc supplementation can positively affect multiple aspects of GI mucosa (on a molecular and cellular level) that would likely act to enhance GI barrier function.
- It was discovered that not only can a zinc deficiency cause diarrhea but also chronic diarrhea conditions can cause the deficiency, thereby promoting even more diarrhea. (source)
- Zinc deficiency alters gut microbiota. (source)
My Favorite Top 12 Foods Containing Zinc
- Alaskan crab
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Grass-fed beef
- Black beans
- Chia seeds
- Raw oats
- 70%+ dark chocolate
Note that with grains and legumes, zinc absorption is reduced due to high levels of phytic acid. For this reason, meat and seafood are better choices. However, I understand both the not-wanting-to-over-meat and also the healing sides so I like to incorporate various sources.
You may recall from Skin Health and Endocrine Disruptors that one of the top 10 things you can do immediately from a food and lifestyle standpoint is, “Eat foods rich in zinc.”
And remember, if your gut is not well, many times, your skin is not well either.
Therefore, zinc is used internally for gut healing and health, but also internally (and even externally) for the skin.
Zinc is used to treat inflamed skin conditions like burns, eczema, bedsores, and diaper rash. The compound forms a protective barrier on the skin’s surface, repelling away moisture and allowing the skin to heal. It may also aid enzymes to break down damaged collagen tissue so that new tissue can be formed.
What to Look for in a Zinc Supplement
This is debatable.
On the one hand, a dietitian says,
Many types of zinc are available. Zinc sulfate is the least expensive form, but it is not as well absorbed as others and may cause stomach upset. More easily absorbed forms include zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc acetate, and zinc glycinate.
According to the NIH, though,
There are various zinc supplements, for example, zinc gluconate, zinc picolinate, and zinc methionine. However, the differences in their cellular actions have not been elucidated to date. Such studies could distinguish between zinc supplements.
The other thing to make note of when it comes to zinc supplements is that many believe Zinc carnosine (which is different than just zinc) is the only way to go for healing the gut. It has even been called, “The Magic Bullet.”
Zinc carnosine is a combination of of l-carnosine and zinc. RD Doug Cook states, “Its unique structure is estimated to be three times more effective when it comes to healing than the individual ingredients it’s made up of; zinc and carnosine.”
Here are some zinc supplements for consideration:
- Integrative Therapeutics – Zinc-Carnosine
- Thorne Research – Pic-Mins – Trace Mineral Complex with 7 Essential Trace Minerals
- Doctor’s Best PepZin GI, Zinc-L-Carnosine Complex
Note: If you’re using supplements to boost the amount of zinc in your body, be sure to do so with a medical practitioner. Zinc can interact with some antibiotics and medications. And again, zinc is a mineral that can easily be obtained from food. It’s just that because you are Gutsy, it might not suffice.
Quick tip: If you’re going to supplement with zinc, consider really tracking it and then asking, “How is this working for me?” via the 90-day gut healing journal. You’ll track zinc (and all other supplements with the letter “S,” as indicated in your journal). Grab the journal PDF immediate download HERE or have us ship a printed, spiral-bound copy to you.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- Oysters! Immune Boosting Gut Health Support
- Leaky Gut Supplements
- Skincare and Makeup in Leaky Gut Associated Dermatitis
You will heal. I will help.