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How could the deficiency of just one nutrient ruin your life? I know it seems impossible that such a thing could happen to you, when we have unlimited foods and supplements to choose from in this era. Let me show you how it happens, so you may never become a victim – because the deficiency of one single mineral, such as zinc, can cause a seemingly mysterious landslide into every type of chronic disease.
Get yourself galvanized
Galvanization is the technique of coating metals such as tin, iron, and steel with zinc to prevent rusting or oxidation (loss of electrons). But zinc not only protects metals from rusting, it also protects your body. The underlying cause of both the aging of the human body and the development of all disease is simply oxidation. Our “rusting” is merely the result of an excess of free radicals drilling holes in our cell membranes, causing premature cell death.
These free radicals come from the two major causes for all disease: low nutrient levels and elevated toxins. Free radicals are merely molecules missing an electron. When they steal an electron from another molecule to stabilize themselves, they leave that molecule short an electron – and the cycle continues.
In this article, we’re going to look at just a few of the roles of zinc in the human body. An unrecognized zinc deficiency (a condition that is literally epidemic) is a perfect example of how the lack of just one mineral can mimic many diverse health problems. In our system of drug-focused medicine, no practice guidelines of any medical specialty recommend checking your zinc levels. Thus, the chance of your physician identifying a zinc deficiency as the cause of chronic disease is remote. You have to know how to do it yourself.
Since zinc is required for the activity of over 300 enzymes, I’m not going to list them all, but let’s look at some of the showstoppers. First of all, elevated levels of the amino acid quinolinate are a sign of brain deterioration that can be detected long before you have any cognitive symptoms, using lab tests such as the Cardio/ION Health Profile. The good news is that elevated quinolinate is totally reversible with vitamin B6. However, B6 does not work until it is converted to pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P), the active form of the vitamin, and zinc is in the enzyme that does this. Thus, zinc deficiency is one reason why there’s such an epidemic of early memory loss, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Also, until folks correct their zinc levels, oftentimes they will need P5P (50 mg) to normalize brain function.
The Cardio/ION test also includes another great indicator of whether you have enough zinc. Whether or not your RBC zinc concentration looks “normal,” the ratio of beta-carotene to vitamin A shows if you need more zinc than the average person. Why? Because beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, but only if you have enough zinc in the enzyme responsible for the conversion.
Harvard researchers have shown that adequate levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A actually reprogram the P53 “cancer gene,” as explained in my book Wellness Against All Odds – the first book that all cancer patients should read. Once the P53 gene has been inactivated by environmental chemicals, such as the phthalates in plastic water bottles, it ceases to make an important tumor-suppressive protein and instead becomes fertilizer for cancer cells. But beta-carotene and vitamin A revert it to a gene that makes cancer cells commit suicide (apoptosis).
Now, you can begin to appreciate how worthless many of the gene studies are because they don’t show you how to reprogram your genes. Plus, medicine ignores another huge factor. There can be ten people with atrial fibrillation, for example, and one will be cured with magnesium, another with arginine, and still others with zinc or selenium. Some will require cell membrane repair, and others mitochondrial repair. We don’t all just look different, we have different chemistries.
Zinc’s importance in preventing disease
You need zinc for the enzymatic activity of your pancreas (your peptidase enzymes). This is especially important not only for all diabetics but for anyone with cancer. Pancreatic enzymes are crucial for stripping cancer cells of their protective “suit of armor,” so that your immune system can destroy them. Low zinc can escalate into diabetes, which is merely one example of accelerated aging of the organs. That’s why diabetics often develop multiple other health conditions and complications, from cataracts to amputations, early heart attacks, recurrent infections, unhealed ulcerations, and brain deterioration. In fact Alzheimer’s has been called by scientists “diabetes of the brain.”
You also need zinc to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, including its most serious form, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Zinc is crucial for the proper functioning of the liver and heart enzyme lactic acid dehydrogenase (LDH) and other liver enzymes, such as alcohol dehydrogenase (especially if you like your evening wine, as I do). Yet, when I see the medical records of folks being treated by hepatologists, the doctors appear clueless about the chemistry of the liver and the fact that fatty liver is totally curable. I have yet to see in records from our readers an assay for RBC zinc, much less any other liver parameters that would be pivotal in actually curing the problem.
Of course, LDH, like many zinc enzymes, has multiple functions. It is also crucial in reducing lactate, and elevated lactate can be a hidden sign of undiagnosed cancers, since cancer cells tend to switch their metabolism from oxidative phosphorylation to fermentation of sugars (the Warburg effect). Folks can also have elevated lactate just from having a gut full of Candida (from antibiotics, sweets, steroids, etc.), which produces the enzyme thiaminase. This enzyme destroys vitamin B1 (thiamine) before it can be absorbed, and B1 is crucial in metabolizing lactate, which in excess can create everything from muscle aches to brain fog and set you up for the roller coaster into multiple chronic diseases.
With all the thousands of chemical reactions in the body that our plethora of proteins control, certain body proteins speak to (and help control) our genes. These controlling proteins are stabilized by what biochemists call “zinc fingers.” The daily repair of your DNA is crucially dependent upon these zinc fingers. DNA polymerase, which is involved in DNA repair, is a zinc-dependent enzyme. When DNA is not properly repaired, you set yourself up for mutations that can lead to cancer or any other disease, such as an autoimmune condition.
One of my favorite zinc enzymes is carbonic anhydrase. Why? Not only does it play a role in the production of hydrochloric acid in your stomach so that you can fight bugs and absorb your nutrients, but, more importantly, it creates the alkaline tide that follows a meal. Alkalinity is good for the body – you want to be slightly on the alkaline side. In contrast, all serious end-stage disease involves excessive acidity. Think of diabetic acidosis. Zinc is crucial in countering acidosis through the activity of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase.
Another life-transforming zinc enzyme is delta-6-desaturase (D6D). This enzyme converts eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one of the most important fatty acids in your brain and your cell membranes, to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Cancer patients are often low in DHA, as are folks with Alzheimer’s, as well as cardiac patients and, in fact, people with most all diseases. Aside from controlling many genes, plus the intellect and vision, DHA is also an “amyloid eater.” This means it reduces levels of the brain protein that causes Alzheimer’s. However, you must lower your phthalate (plasticizer) levels, because phthalate destroys the D6D enzyme. (For information on how to reduce your phthalate burden, see my book Detoxify or Die.)
The upside and downside of zinc supplementation
Where do you get zinc? Shellfish, meats, eggs, and cheeses are good sources. Vegetarians are often lacking in zinc, and deficiencies are extremely common even in people who eat these good, animal-based foods. Therefore, you want to get your RBC zinc measured (and you must direct the doctor not to order serum or plasma tests, and then you must see the lab report). You want to be sure that you are in the top half of normal. In other words, if normal on a lab report is 4-6, you want to be 5 or higher. Folks in the lower half of normal are not normal. If you’re terribly deficient, you should take more than the standard daily dose of 15-30 mg of chelated zinc.
But remember, the more zinc you take, the more you lower your levels of other minerals, such as molybdenum and manganese (important in detoxification processes); chromium (crucial in glucose and blood pressure regulation, as well as protection against endothelial dysfunction and plaque); vanadium (an insulin mimic); and copper. Copper, which is important to the functioning of over 100 enzymes, is especially critical as a cofactor for cytochrome C oxidase, which is made by the mitochondria to create the energy for healing. If you take the wrong forms of copper, such as sulfate, you can actually cause Alzheimer’s. However, good copper, as in a chelated form, is needed to stop Alzheimer’s. (Recommended brands and dosages for these nutrients can be found in my book How to Cure Diabetes.)
In the 1980s, I lived part time in a sea grape treehouse on the beach in the British West Indies. This treehouse and all the other homes on the island had tin roofs. Those roofs that were not galvanized rusted away from the salty Caribbean air, nightly aerial spraying for mosquitoes, and other pollutants. Clearly, galvanization protected the rooftops from aging, just as zinc protects you. And since a second meaning of galvanization is “motivation,” you can appreciate why I want you to be both motivated and protected. I want you to get galvanized.
About the Author
Sherry A. Rogers, MD, is board certified by the American Board of Environmental Medicine and the American Board of Family Practice. She is a Fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. Dr. Rogers has been practicing medicine for 50 years, and has taught well over 100 physician courses in six countries, including lectures at Oxford. She has written 15 books, including the landmark book Detoxify or Die; numerous scientific papers; textbook chapters; and the monthly, referenced newsletter Total Wellness, which she has published for 30 years. In addition, Dr. Rogers maintains a non-patient phone consulting service, where she consults with readers in two dozen countries. She is also a long-time honorary member of Price-Pottenger’s Advisory Board. Article references, consults with Dr. Rogers, and much more are available from prestigepublishing.com or 1-800-846-6687. For a 15% discount on her electronic newsletter and books, mention that you read about them in the Price-Pottenger Journal.
Published in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing
Winter 2019 – 2020 | Volume 43, Number 3
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