Zinc imbalances have been shown to contribute to poor outcome in brain injuries. After a brain injury zinc decreases in the body and high amounts are found in the urine. This likely due to cell damage and other factors releasing zinc into the bloodstream. Some dementia’s and Alzheimer’s patients have particularly low levels of zinc in the body.
Zinc is a particularly important mineral in that it is essential in at least 80 different enzymes in the central nervous systems of humans. From DNA / RNA synthesis to hormone regulation, zinc is an important co-factor. Dietary zinc is required not only by the brain, but for adequate immune function, tissue repair and replacement, nutrient digestion, and energy metabolism in all organ systems. One problem exists in that zinc deficiency is hard to identify using lab tests. Serum, hair and urine testing seem to be the better ways to measure zinc deficiency. The RDA for zinc in the general population is about 9 mg/day. Zinc supplementation appears to be associated with improvements in markers of immune function. The use of zinc supplements is popular in cold and flu treatments, but this is controversial whether it helps or not. Animal studies of zinc deficiency show an increase in anxiety. Zinc supplementation in brain injury patients actually resulted in an increase protein synthesis and slightly better outcomes
From a food standpoint, zinc may be less familiar than iron or calcium, but it is pretty important to get it from food. The most popular source of zinc are almost certainly oysters. Two oysters would give you about 20 milligrams of zinc. Red meat and poultry are probably the most common sources of zinc in the diet. Pastured raised is probably a better source of zinc. Also, fish and shellfish are good sources of zinc. Sesame and pumpkin seeds are rich sources of zinc as well as cashews. Among plant food sources, quinoa and oats are good.
Like other minerals, zinc is prone to be chelated by pesticides such as glyphosate such Round-up. Thus better sources of minerals in general are found in organic vegetables. Dietary phytates also inhibit the absorption of zinc. So pay attention to your intake of phytates.
As far as supplements go, there’s a very absorbable form of zinc called zinc picolinate. Companies like Thorne and NOW make very good zinc supplements. Zinc methionine is another form of a zinc supplement that is well absorbed.
Although the available evidence suggests that zinc may be an effective adjunct in treating brain injury, there are many unanswered questions that prevent its optimal use. And it has many upsides and not many downsides, so be sure to get your zinc.
To your health