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Most practitioners are pretty knowledgeable about Zinc and are quick to recognise a deficiency and the opportunities for zinc supplementation as an effective therapy and those same practitioners are often plagued by nagging questions that come up, in spite of loads of clinical experience, like:

  • Are plasma and serum zinc levels interchangeable?
  • What does zinc adequacy look like?  Is it just a single number on a page or do we always have to factor in copper levels and get the ratio right as well?
  • What can I expect from zinc supplementation in terms of changes to the patient’s plasma zinc?
  • What should I do when a patient’s zinc marker is refractory to the intervention?
  • Is there really a significant difference between the different supplemental forms available?

One thing that surprises many people but is important to appreciate is, that Zinc is still the new mineral on the block!!  We knew about the importance of other minerals such as Fe, Ca and Iodine for half a decade before we realised zinc was essential to humans…yep this thought bubble only popped up in 1961!  

That means that our knowledge about Zinc still has lots of gaps and ongoing research is needed just to establish some of the basics!  However, scientific findings in relation to zinc, particularly in the last 5 years, have placed this incredible mineral centre stage, with growing recognition that zinc deficiency is prevalent even in affluent countries (Beckett & Ball 2014, Gronli et al 2013) and that zinc deficiency is emerging as one of the key nutritional issues in mental health risk (Mylniec et al 2014Siwek et al 2013).  So what are we to do, with the growing promise of what Zinc can offer our patients but still with basic nagging questions like the ones above?

We need to use a mix of keeping up with the new research and also paying attention to our clinical experience & discoveries – and keep sharing both so we can all continue to build on our knowledge base about this new mineral on the block!  So here are some new papers that might help fill in some of your gaps, feel free to send me yours! :)  

I used to think my Zinc obsession was just a personal quirk but with all the new extraordinary research discoveries, I think I might have been onto something!!! 😉

Rachel still loves zinc and because most praccies know this, she gets asked meaty questions about various aspects of Zinc all the time.  There are 4 questions that come up undoubtedly the most: how to test zinc accurately, how to define adequacy, what’s the best form of zinc to take and what to do with the zinc deficient patient whose results just won’t budge. These are really good questions so Rachel has refuelled on the latest research and endeavours to answer these questions comprehensively in this most recent Update in Under 30 recording.