Zinc Protects the Reproductive System from ‘Gender-Bender’ Chemicals

Zinc is such a super-hero.

It has protective effects from many of the toxins we’re being bombarded with, on a daily basis. That includes the ‘gender-bender’ chemicals that disrupt and create havoc on our hormones.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is structurally similar to diethylstilbestrol (DES), the drug given to millions of pregnant women from 1940’s – 1980 that greatly increased the risk of sexual disorders and cancers in their offspring (and their offspring’s offspring). Although BPA is less estrogenic than DES, it is probably more pervasive in our environment, due to widespread use.

Bisphenol-A, found in many plastics (including baby bottles and children’s drink bottles/lunchboxes) and epoxy resins is one such chemical. BPA has been shown to be toxic to the reproductive system, especially in males. Studies on rats shows that zinc deficiency increases toxicity of BPA on the male testis. Zinc has also shown to be protective against neuro-behavioral disorders caused by BPA toxicity.

Another endocrine-disrupting class of chemicals are those known as phthalates, also ubiquitous in the environment, in vinyl furniture, fragranced products (air fresheners, personal care products, shampoos, nail polish, detergents, soaps, etc). One of the ways we are being bombarded by phthalates is via our clothing – polyester (otherwise known as polyethyl terephthalate) in particular.

A study on rats, published last year (2020), showed that zinc supplementation protected from the endocrine toxicity caused by phthalates.

Although zinc is a super-hero, it must be kept in balance with another super-hero mineral, namely copper. Check out this case study on what can happen if you supplement with isolated zinc. Fortunately, she was able to recover most of her symptoms, but this person, who was poisoned by their zinc-based tooth adhesive material was not so fortunate.

It is far better to get zinc from food sources, such as oysters and red meat. Oysters are, by far, the world highest known source of zinc, but they also contain copper. Beef liver is another good source of both zinc and copper. If you are not a fan of the taste of either, you can take it in capsule form, which can be found on the NourishMe Organics website (use code ‘nourishme’ at checkout, to get 10% off)

Mineral Deficiencies = Heavy Metal Toxicity

If our body doesn’t get the essential minerals it requires from diet, it starts to compensate by absorbing less preferable elements that have similar properties, such as metals. Our bodies do this to ensure vital processes continue, even though this very act of short-term survival compromises long-term health.

If our diet is deficient in iodine, our thyroid gland will latch onto fluorine, chlorine or bromine instead – even though these elements will eventually suppress thyroid function.

If our diet is deficient in calcium, then lead will accumulate in our bones, because lead can substitute *some* functions of calcium – though it leads to brittle bones. The same applies to strontium.

If someone has low adrenal function, their body will absorb cadmium – because cadmium raises sodium levels, which is required to keep the adrenals functioning, and avoid complete burnout. It’s certainly not ideal, but it keeps a person alive in the short-term.

Cadmium, mercury and nickel can displace zinc.

Silver and gold displace copper.

Excess iron displaces chromium – this is why iron overload results in dysfunction of glucose metabolism, diabetes and insulin resistance.

Aluminium displaces boron, and can accumulate in the bones instead of boron. It is possible that some of the health issues found commonly in post-menopausal women may be the result of heavy metals (lead, aluminium, etc) being released due to the fast turnover of bone cells, in the absence of sufficient estrogen.

Arsenic displaces phosphorus.

Mercury displaces selenium.

Tungsten displaces molybdenum.

Berillium displaces magnesium.

According to Dr. Paul Eck: “Heavy metals serve as a back-up system. When the primary nutritional minerals are insufficient to protect the person, Nature uses substitutes”.

On the other hand, if we have adequate intake of essential, preferred minerals in the diet, they compete and displace heavy metals, so they are rapidly excreted from the body. The extent that heavy metals cause toxicity, is the extent that we are deficient in essential minerals.

Zinc Deficiency Causes Meat Aversion & ‘Fussy Eaters’

Researchers have known since the 1970’s that zinc deficiency causes a loss of appetite and/or abnormal food preferences.

There have been studies that showed zinc-deficient mice chose a diet that was virtually 100% carbs, while zinc replete mice chose a balance of carbs, protein and fats.

Zinc is involved in over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body, including building and repairing tissues, cell division,(why zinc needs are greatly increased during pregnancy, infancy and the growth spurts of childhood and young adulthood), reproductive maturity/fertility (why zinc is important during puberty), regulating neural activities, including mood, behaviour, and sensory experience, production of stomach acid and integrity of gut lining.

In animal studies, creating zinc deficiency is a reliable way to induce anorexia and depression, because deficiency not only lowers appetite, but affects mental processes and perception.

Think about those most likely to be averse to meat (protein). It is pregnant women (especially in the first trimester when the developing embryo requires zinc to grow) and vegans/vegetarians. Now, don’t @ me, just hear me out. Plant-based diets are usually very low in zinc, and what little zinc is consumed, is often not absorbed because of the presence of oxalates, phytic acid and other antinutrients in certain plants (grains, seeds, nuts, leafy greens, etc), that block absorption of zinc.

Think about those most likely to be labeled ‘fussy eaters’. It’s young children, whose growing bodies are burning through the zinc. Not only do they hardly want to eat, but when they do, it’s usually carb foods – bread, pasta, potatoes, biscuits, noodles…

It creates a vicious circle, where carbs don’t provide zinc, and the worsening deficiency causes more carb cravings…and around it goes.

If you’re a smoker, or exposed to secondhand smoke, you’re more prone to zinc deficiency, because cadmium (found in cigarettes) competes for absorption. And if you’re zinc deficient, you’re more vulnerable to the effects of cadmium and other heavy metals, because you don’t have zinc to oppose them.

Best way to raise zinc levels is through food sources, since supplementation will deplete copper.

World’s highest known source of zinc is oysters, followed by beef as a distant second. If you don’t like the taste of oysters, then capsules are an option (dried and ground oyster)

Selenium protects against mercury + other heavy metals

Did you know that the availability of selenium regulates glutathione activity in the human body? No biggie! Glutathione is only one of our most important and potent antioxidants – meaning it combats free radicals and reduces oxidative stress.

Mercury is strongly attracted to selenium, and will bind with selenium, forming compounds that cannot be absorbed by the body, but will instead be excreted. Although this process renders mercury harmless, it also uses up selenium that may have otherwise been used for antioxidant roles in the body. So, good news if you have adequate selenium stores, or the fish you just ate contained more selenium than mercury (likely the case for all smaller ocean fish, but not so for larger, predatory species, like shark)….not so good news if you are selenium-deficient.

Remember how they told pregnant women to avoid eating fish, due to mercury exposure? We know that mercury can cross the placenta and cause brain damage (among other things) in the unborn child. But it turns out that ocean-caught fish are an abundant source of selenium that protects from the mercury found therein, and a deficiency of selenium during pregnancy can also cause brain damage in the developing fetus.

Fish that have a positive selenium : mercury ratio (more selenium than mercury) include halibut, sole, salmon, snapper, flounder and chunk light tuna [Ralston et al. 2008, 2016]

Given the above info, it is probably wise to increase selenium intake before and after removal of amalgam fillings.

Studies show that selenium is also protective against arsenic and cadmium poisoning, both through increased methylation activity, and via binding of the heavy metals, making them biologically inert, and able to be excreted from the body without interacting with (and damaging) cells [Zwolak, 2020].

Some soils are naturally low in selenium (Australia and New Zealand), and what selenium is left in the soil is not taken up by certain plants, in the presence of super-phosphate fertilisers.

The most bioavailable form of supplementation is a yeast-based product called Selenoexcell.