From A to Zinc

ZincThis month truly focuses on one of the most critical elements to our functioning. You can’t walk through an isle of a store without coming face to face with one supplement or another. Each one promising to be the miracle cure for all of your ailments. But how much has science really proven the benefits of these pills? Do we really understand their benefits or are we just loading the shopping carts because it happened to be Dr.Oz’s drug of the week?

I absolutely believe and advocate supplementing our already deficient diet. The more help the better right? Maybe or maybe not.

The flavor of the month for May is Zinc. Zinc has earned rave reviews for its healing properties for the nagging cold or the sore that just won’t heal. What if I told you Zinc holds greater power than just helping with the sniffles?

The past 4 months have tail spinned me into the worst thyroid relapse I have had since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 12 years ago. I really felt I had a handle on the understanding of the thyroid, its functions, its nuances and its treatment. But when my symptoms came raging forth in April of this year landing me in the ER, I realized I have only begun to understand the true depth of the thyroid. After running a battery of tests, my Zinc levels were depleted to a staggering low of 45 (Optimal 100-150). This Zinc deficiency brought me to the worst hypothyroid symptoms I have ever experienced-severe fatigue, excruiating muscle pain, massive hair loss, unbelievable weight gain, extreme acne (I could have been a spokesperson for Proactive).

Because of the zinc deficiency, my thyroid took a direct hit and ceased to do any of its required functions. I began taking Zinc supplements over the last month and am only now slowly starting to see a mild improvement. With these recent events, I delved deeper into areas of the thyroid and I clearly underestimated the impact it has on our lives.

Several reports and documented studies suggest that zinc deficiency is a cause of subclinical hypothyroidism. If you have gone through your symptom check list and find a lot, if not all, mirror the symptoms related to thyroid but your thyroid levels register “normal”, zinc deficiency could very well be hindering optimal thyroid balance.

Zinc deficiencies are more prevalent in well-developed countries. Because zinc is a natural element found in muscles and everywhere on earth, eating a diet that includes lean red meats can help increase the levels of zinc. However, in many well-developed countries where health conscious individuals shun red meats, zinc deficiencies are a commonality

Significant relationships between thyroid volume and serum zinc levels showed low release of TSH, T3 and T4 as well as increasing thyroid antibodies in patient’s with autoimmune hypothyroidism.

Now before you go and start popping Zinc, request your doctor to check your levels. Although serum and plasma concentrations of Zinc are often times not 100%, it will at least give you a baseline. With Zinc, MORE IS NOT BETTER. Zinc toxicity actually worsens hypothyroid. Start with caution and monitor levels every couple of months. True Zinc deficiency often takes 4-6 months to balance. Patience, as with anything else, is key. You can’t rush optimization!

So all supplements are not bad and all supplements are not needed. Understand why you take what you take. Ask the questions and listen to the answers and if you are not content with those answers, ask again. Knowledge is power and understanding is key!

And of course, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact my office.