By pure chance I've come across several articles and webinars today that are all talking about zinc. I tend to believe that we should pay attention to what is put before us by the powers that be, so I spent most of my Sunday elbows deep in the reading (nerd alert). So zinc isn't really something I often think about too awful much, I'll be honest. Maybe that's why my inbox was assaulted with it. I want to break down what I learned today for you so you don't need to spend your Sundays buried in the literature like me.
You might not think about zinc all that often but it's essential for many metabolic activities. Zinc turns on hundreds different enzymes that help to facilitate reactions that drive metabolism and gene activity. Zinc serves to improve immunity, help with hormone production and is anti-inflammatory among many other things. It also has a pretty therapeutic effect when fighting cancer, which is what I'll focus on here today.
Zinc deficiency has been shown to promote a wide variety of cancers including esophageal, bladder, skin, digestive tract cancers as well as cancers of the head and neck. This is because zinc helps to regulate of the big inflammation pathways called NF-kB. So when zinc is low, inflammation goes up! Inflammation is the root of all evil, and most cancer... so you can see why this is important. Zinc is also known to inhibit a function known as angiogenesis (Big word that means blood vessel formation). Part of the reason cancer thrives as it does is because it forms its own blood supply, stealing all the nutrients it needs from the blood to grow while leaving you malnourished. If that weren't enough to get you on the zinc bandwagon, zinc has ALSO been shown to activate a function called apoptosis (death) in abnormal cells.
So zinc seems pretty cool, huh? Fighting inflammation, preventing new cancer blood supplies and initiating the death of cancer cells before they can become a true cancer. You might think it's time to run out and buy a top of the line supplement but please hold up on that. As with most nutrients, just because a little is good doesn't mean a lot is better. Zinc and copper compete for the same sites of absorption in your body. Meaning if you have too much zinc you won't be able to absorb copper and visa versa. If you take a supplement without the supervision of a trained provider you run the risk of developing a copper deficiency. That's no fun. So unless you have someone around that knows how to dose you properly it's best to stick with food sources.
The best sources of zinc in the diet are beef, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lamb, chickpeas, beans, coca powder, cashews, mushrooms, spinach and chicken. Most of us are zinc deficient so please start eating these foods daily. If you're looking for more, there is a great chart here that will give you a ton of info on zinc and where to find it.
The topic of zinc and cancer is a huge one and I really could go on for a while but I'll leave it here for now. Time to go make a spinach salad with chicken and chickpeas!