Zinc (chemical symbol Zn) is an important nutrient in the human body because of its role in many different cellular functions. It binds with a wide variety of molecular compound to form complexes, and participates in the metabolism of RNA and DNA, signal transduction, and gene expression. It also regulates cellular self-destruction. It is estimated that about 10% of human proteins are bound to zinc.
It helps with wound healing. It is also a very effective antimicrobial agent even at low concentrations. Zn supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms of gastroenteritis by direct antimicrobial action on the gastrointestinal tract.
The human body has about 2-4 grams of Zn distributed in the brain, muscles, bones, kidneys, liver with majority of it in the prostate and eyes.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF Zn DEFICIENCY
Zinc deficiency may result in poor or loss of appetite, diarrhea, impaired immune function, poor or retardation of growth, delayed sexual maturation, eye or skin lesions, delayed wound healing, taste abnormalities, and mental lethargy. These signs and symptoms are not specific and maybe associated with other health conditions. Therefore, it is important to seek medical advice if your child is showing any of the above signs and symptoms.
Copper and Zn compete to be absorbed in the gut. Poor gut function or in the case of leaky gut, more copper is being absorbed, thus, limiting Zn absorption. This resulting Zn deficiency may limit the body’s ability to eliminate toxic metals, as Zn is a part of the metallothionenin detoxifies toxic metals in the body.
HOW DOES Zn WORK AS PART OF ADHD TREATMENT?
In a recent study, children treated with a daily dose of 40mg of Zn as Zn sulfate for 12 weeks showed significant improvement in scores on hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and impaired socialization scales than the children given placebo, while free fatty acids level increased as well.
In the brain, Zn is stored in the synaptic vesicles of the glutamatergic neurons, modulating brain excitability and synaptic plasticity, which means it helps with learning. However, Zn can also act as a neurotoxin. This conflicting role of Zn in the brain suggests zinc homeostasis is important in the function of the brain and central nervous system.
WHEN TO SUPPLEMENT?
It is difficult to assess Zn level in the body as most blood tests are inaccurate. However, if your child has frequent or chronic diarrhea, chances are he and she is losing Zn from the diarrhea. You might try a Zn supplement of up to 20mg per day. I have used Zn lozenges for my daughter, who is super picky and sensitive with taste and texture. The zinc lozenges provide about 20mg of Zn per tablet. This is a great start.
Besides replacing Zn loss during diarrhea, Zn also helps with improving appetite by stimulating the taste buds. This is quite interesting when I started giving my daughter the Zn lozenges. She loves it initially. It is lemon-flavored. But after couple of weeks, she started complaining of a metal flavor of the lozenges. So when the Zn level has improved, it shows by having a metallic flavor. So now we stopped giving her the Zn lozenges, and she appetite is still great.