Okay so you like to optimize your dietary intake of essential trace minerals like zinc, maybe you bought a zinc supplement, got a special and expensive formula that promises better absorption rates, better bio availability, who knows right? If you’re like me, you want the best of what amount and quality of this mineral going in your body. But what about what does out of your body? Unfortunately, essential minerals and metals such as zinc are only present in small quantities in our bodies and some lifestyle choices we makes can possibly cause leakage of how little zinc with have. Let’s explore ways by which your body leaks zinc (or things that leach Zn from your body) and propose some solutions on how to prevent it from happening. Also check out : what’s the right zinc dosage?
Binge drinking and heavy alcohol intake leaches zinc from your body
Ever wondered why you go to the bathroom so often when you’re out drinking with your friends? Yes you could argue that beer is 5% alcohol and 95% water (at least up here in Canada, you guys down in the U.S. are pretty soft with that 2% beer) but it’s not only that. Unfortunately, alcohol is a diuretic and basically dehydrates your body. It inhibits the pituitary secretion of a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which tells your kidney to reabsorb water. When levels of ADH drop, the kidneys reabsorb less water therefore causing more urine. Depending on how much you drink, a certain quantity of zinc will be leaked from your body through this excess urine, never to be seen again. According to research, up to 50% of alcoholics are deficient in zinc. You could argue that they are deficient in zinc and probably many other essential nutrients because their drinking habits kill their appetite for normal, nutrient rich food (remember beer is highly caloric and contains protein, which are difficult to absorb when drunk). But you can’t argue with the process of the anti-diuretic hormone. Take note that diuretics generally not only leech zinc but other metals, minerals and essential vitamins as well. Also read : the benefits of zinc.
Apparently alcohol lowers absorption of zinc in the intestines as well, so if you consume a lot of alcohol and don’t plan to stop anytime soon (which is understandable), then make sure you up your intake of zinc and other essential nutriments.
Caffeine depletes Zn levels
Caffeine, a stimulant consumed by many, also decreases leaches zinc out of your body. Just like alcohol, caffeine is diuretic (a substance that promotes the production of urine) leaks zinc from your body by your urine. Not only does it deplete zinc but also a bunch of other essential nutrients such as : thiamin, Vitamin B spectrum, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Coincidence or not, I have yet to see someone in great physical condition who drinks 6-7 cups of coffee a day.
Other diuretics used for various treatments also make you lose zinc
Diuretics, also called water pills, are commonly used to treat heart problems such as hypertension / high blood pressure. While Thiazide diuretic drugs such as Zaroxolyn and Esidrix are effective in getting rid of unnecessary water and salt in the blood flow, they also have harmful side-effects and one of them is zinc depletion. Other unwanted side-effects include :
- Arrhythmia, abnormal heart rhythm;
- Tiredness or weakness;
- Muscle cramps;
- Dizziness, lightheadedness;
- Blurred vision, confusion, headache.
*** For more info on this topic check out webmd on diuretics.
Phytates, or phytic acid, is the principal principal storage of phosphorus in legumes, bran, nuts and seeds. While there is more of it in nuts and seeds, it is still very present in grain and legumes. Problem with phytates is they bind to minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium in the intestines and leak them out of the body. Dietary phytate also interferes with zinc re absorption, causing leaching of zinc. Obviously this is to be avoided. Fortunately for you, there is a way around this and it involves sprouting, fermenting and soaking legumes, grain, nuts and seeds. Oh noes, work to be done ;(
FYI, phytic acid content of some popular nuts :
- Almonds 1,280 mg/100 gram
- Cashews 1,866 mg/100 gram
- Chestnuts 47 mg/100 gram
- Hazelnuts 1,620 mg/100 gram
- Peanuts, toasted 933 mg/100 gram
- Jif peanut butter 1,252 mg/100 gram
- Black walnuts 1,977 mg/100 gram
- English walnuts 760 mg/100 gram