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Health Matters weekly column (to replace Science Matters)

13/August/2021

Our Science Matters weekly columnist has become intensely busy with his professional projects and can no longer contribute regularly for a while. We are pleased to welcome professional Naturopath and former ambulance worker Mark Sargent as our new Health Matters columnist.

Trouble healing? You may be Zinc deficient.

Mark Sargent

I have decided to launch my Health Matters journey by delving into the realm of nutrient deficiencies. 

I see many clients who suffer from a wide array of nutrient deficiencies, and many of them may surprise you, given we live in a country where access to quality, nutritious food is not restricted. Zinc is one of our essential nutrients, and yet approximately 47% of the population is at risk of zinc deficiency (1)

Zinc is either directly responsible, or assists, in hundreds of functions within the body,  included, but not limited to, regulating Gene expression, anti-viral activity, brain development, DNA and RNA synthesis, assisting in the absorption of B group vitamins, sexual health and development, wound healing, insulin production and action, and improving carbon dioxide transport in the lungs. 

Zinc is also used therapeutically for the treatment of acne, diarrhoea (acute), alcoholism, anorexia nervosa, Autism, burns, inflammatory bowel diseases, improving immune function, loss of smell and taste, growth retardation, infertility, prevention of prostate cancer, manic depression, poor appetite (especially on waking), hearing loss, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and many more.. (1)

Obviously, not all the conditions mentioned are directly attributed to a zinc deficiency, but they can be a contributing factor. The human body is a complex biological entity, which requires the right balance of nutrients in which to complete the thousands of chemical reactions required to maintain homeostasis (Homeostasis means any self-regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival) (2). Therefore, maintaining this balance is critical if we are to stay healthy. 

As with all nutrients, they are best obtained through our diet, and this is no different for zinc. If you are a meat eater, then zinc deficiency should not be an issue, however, if you suffer from an inflammatory bowel disease, you may not be absorbing nutrients in an effective manner and supplementation may be warranted. It does not end there, as other factors such as competition from other minerals can block the uptake, causing imbalance. 

This brings up an important point regarding supplementation of any kind. Do I need it? This is a question you need to discuss with your Naturopath or Dietitian, as I do not condone self-prescribing as a rule. That is why we do the study, to advise you on what is best for your individual needs.

Works Cited

1. Osiecki, Henry. The Nutrient Bible 9th Edition. [book auth.] Henry Osiecki and Henry Osiecki. The Nutrient Bible 9th Edition. Eagle Farm : AG Publishing, 2010.

2. Britannica.com. “Homeostasis”. britannica.com. [Online] Encyclopedia Britannica, May 27th, 2020. [Cited: August 9th, 2021.] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lawrence-Joseph-Henderson.

Mark Sargent holds an Adv. Dip. Nat. and has his own practice in the Hunter Valley, NSW. Mark also holds an Explosives License in NSW with 10 years’ experience in explosives use for mining and quarry, and explosives’ manufacture. He was employed by NSW Health as an internal ambulance for Prince of Wales & Prince Henry Hospitals and the Eastern Heart clinic. You can contact him @shotfirer777@bigpond.com

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