Lesson 9: Zinc


Zinc is a trace element that is a building block for enzymes, proteins, and cells. It is also responsible for freeing Vitamin A from its holding tank, the liver, through its enzymatic activity . Zinc also plays a role in boosting the immune system, mediating senses such as taste and smell, and wound healing . Zinc toxicity is rare, but zinc deficiency (most commonly occurring in the developing world) may lead to delays in growth and development, rough skin, cognitive impairment, a weakened immune system (leading in increased susceptibility of infectious diseases, particularly in kids), and more .

What You Need: Men = 11 mg; Women = 8 mg per day – higher limit is 40mg per day

Sources: Nuts, seeds and grains. Hemp seeds, tempeh, tofu, oats and spinach are also great sources. 138g pumkin seeds = 10.3mg, 134g poppy seeds = 13.7mg, 150g sesame seeds = 15.4mg,  200g lentils = 6.9mg.

Zinc Ionophore

Zinc binding compounds, especially zinc ionophores, are a new group of potential anticancer agents that target zinc to the lysosomes and induce lysosome-mediated apoptosis of cancer cells . In addition, the role of zinc in regulating autophagy has been recently realized. Dietary plant polyphenols such as the flavonoids quercetin (QCT) from apples, onions, berries etc and epigallocatechin-gallate from green tea and cacao act as antioxidants and as signaling molecules. Remarkably, the activities of numerous enzymes that are targeted by polyphenols are dependent on zinc. It has been previously shown that these polyphenols chelate zinc cations and hypothesized that these flavonoids might be also acting as zinc ionophores, transporting zinc cations through the plasma membrane this getting greater levels of zinc into a cell.