If all that comes to mind when you think about zinc is its role in helping you fight off the common cold, you're missing out on all this powerful little mineral has to offer. It plays an essential role in everything from wound healing to DNA creation to sexual health. It's even vital to three of our five senses: sight, taste, and smell. But believe it or not, until recently, we really didn't fully understand how much zinc we should take every day.
Fortunately, a collaborative team of researchers has recently shed some light on the process. Their research is helping us gain a greater understanding of how zinc functions in the body and how to strike a balance between being deficient and overdosing.
While researchers knew that a protein called serum albumin moves zinc around the body, they weren't sure where the primary binding site was for zinc and serum albumin to connect. The research team was able to identify that location using X-ray crystallography. However, they found something unexpected: in addition to the primary binding site, there were also a number of secondary binding sites. This told them that the relationship between zinc and serum albumin was more complex than they had expected.
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This relationship is important because zinc isn't all serum albumin is responsible for moving around the body. It's also the primary taxi service for things like hormones and fatty acids. If you end up overdoing it on your zinc intake, it can be hard for serum albumin to give a ride to your hormones. Conversely, if your fatty acid levels are too high, which can occur in people with diabetes or obesity, you may have trouble getting zinc where it needs to go.
Clearly, it's important to maintain balance in the body. Understanding the transport system of various minerals and molecules can help researchers pinpoint the cause when something gets out of whack.
When it comes to zinc, you definitely want to make sure you're getting enough, but you don't want to overdo it either. The best dosage range for regular supplement intake is 7.5 to 15 mg per day. I think it's best to take extra zinc only when you suspect your immune system might need a boost, such as when you feel a cold coming on. For daily doses of zinc, I prefer zinc picolinate, which you can find in Super Immune QuickStart. This is the best absorbed form for daily use. Each scoop of QuickStart has 7.5 mg of zinc.
If you're coming down with a cold, my favorite product is Advanced Zinc Lozenges. It contains zinc acetate, the best form for supporting immune function and fighting the common cold. However, you need to make sure you follow the dosing instructions: no more than six lozenges per day, and don't take them for more than six days in a row.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD