by Dr. Sharleen Hawco ND September 18, 2016

Fall is around the corner and with that you should start getting your immune system in check. A healthy immune system requires zinc for your white blood cells to battle germs effectively.  

If you get sick easily, get sick frequently and if you stay sick long after others have recovered you are showing signs of decreased immunity and should check your zinc levels. Poor wound healing is another indicator of a poorly functioning immune system.

Zinc is also necessary for well over 100 enzyme reaction within your body. Having optimally functioning enzymatic reactions has far-reaching effects ranging from pain reduction, proper digestion to reducing depression.

13 Signs Your Zinc is Low:

  • decreased immunity: you get sick easily, frequently and stay sick long after others have recovered
  • poor wound healing
  • poor digestion, heartburn, foul breath (zinc is required to make hydrochloric acid in your stomach)
  • poor/slow hair growth
  • easily broken nails/white spots on nails
  • tooth decay
  • a decreased sense of taste and smell
  • poor adrenal function/stress response
  • anxiety/depression
  • low libido
  • trouble getting pregnant due to low sperm counts
  • low thyroid activity
  • in pregnancy, poor fetal growth

Test your Zinc Levels:

To find out if your zinc is low, you can ask your healthcare practitioner to do an easy Zinc Tally or Zinc Sufficiency Test. You can also do this test at home.

  • Procedure: You need 10 ml of a zinc sulfate solution. I use Metagenics Zinc Tally solutionSwish 10 ml of the zinc sulphate solution in your mouth for at least 10 seconds. You can swallow the zinc liquid after the test.
  • Results: After 10 seconds of swishing:
    • If the solutions taste like water (a lack of taste) or a delayed taste, this indicates that you are likely zinc deficient. 
    • If the solution tastes like metal, your zinc levels are likely sufficient.

If your zinc is low, you can take a daily basic antioxidant containing zinc, a multivitamin with zinc, or consult your Naturopathic Doctor or healthcare practitioner for a daily zinc dose tailored to you. You will know your zinc levels are up when you retake the Zinc Tally test, and the solution has a strong metallic taste.

Absorption of zinc is decreased by fiber and food, as it competes with binding sites with calcium and magnesium. Zinc is best taken on an empty stomach or with a small amount of food. Larger doses of zinc can cause temporary nausea, so it is best to start with a small dose and work up to a level you can tolerate.

10 Vegan Food Sources of Zinc:

  • asparagus
  • shitake mushrooms
  • crimini mushrooms
  • sesame seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • lentils
  • garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • cashews
  • quinoa
  • spinach
Dr. Sharleen Hawco ND
Dr. Sharleen Hawco ND


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