Friday, January 8, 2010

Zinc in plasma - a reliable indicator of intake?

Zinc is a very important nutrient, to quote the Linus Pauling Institue
Numerous aspects of cellular metabolism are zinc-dependent. Zinc plays important roles in growth and development, the immune response, neurological function, and reproduction.
You get the picture ! Did some searching and found that in 1978  a test was done in rats putting them on a zinc deficient diet. The zinc in the rats plasma dropped within 48 hours and stayed at 25% of "normal" levels for the rest of the study (65 days). So knowing how important it is I checked with my year 2000 Medlab test catalog. The good new is that they can do a blood test to measure your zinc plasma levels. However they stated:
Plasma levels are a indifferent measure of body stores
 To put this in normal speak, your plasma levels do not reflect how much zinc you have stored in your body. This is likely to be true, but I don't care about how much zinc my body has in storage I want to know if my body is getting enough. The rats plasma level dropped 75% when they didn't get enough so what is enough for humans? However I would suspect that if you went to the doctor they would say don't need to get your blood level tested for zinc because it doesn't tell how much you have in storage. This is confusing adequate intake with adequate storage. You want both to be at optimal levels. No good have good stores of zinc if my blood plasma levels are low. I would dig a bit deeper however medlab have some good advice:
Health food shops sell zinc supplements to boost the immune system and cure colds and topical preparations may premote healing of wounds and ulcers. Plasma level do not give useful information in these situations - better to try the products and see if they work. 
 I like that philosophy, try it and see if it works. I know my life was much better with extra zinc. So if you wonder if you might benefit from zinc try taking some (10-15mg a day preferable in a multi) and see what happens.  

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