Monday, December 6, 2010

Zinc, Tinnitus and Immune System Health

File:Zn-TableImage.pngThe inner ear contains the highest concentration of zinc of any organ. Numerous clinical studies have shown a correlation between zinc deficiency, tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) . SNHL is the most common type of hearing loss, occurring in 23 percent of the population older than 65 years of age. The term "sensorineural" is used to indicate some pathological change in structures within the inner ear or in the acoustic nerve.

One study showed that, "With zinc supplementation in patients who are marginally zinc deficient, there has been improvement in tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss in about one-third of elderly adults."(1) Another clinical trial showed supplementation with 34-68 mg of zinc over a two week period produced". . . a significant decrease in the numeric scale (of the tinnitus)."(2) A French study using zinc to treat tinnitus found, ". . . positive results in about 52% of cases: in 15% there was a good amelioration and in 37% there was a smaller but significant amelioration of their symptoms. . . . (it is) more efficient in types of tinnitus of a continuous character than in other types."(3)

...  Zinc plays a major role in keeping the thymus going. The thymus gland orchestrates the workings of the immune system. The thymus is big and robust when we are young but declines with age. When we are born, the thymus, tucked in the neck behind the top of our collarbone, is bigger than our heart. The shrinking starts at puberty and by the time we're sixty, it's a pale shadow of its former self. This parallels the rapid decline of our immune system. The shrinkage of the immune system is one of the most visible signs of aging.

Until recently, the experts considered this slow decline as an irreversible decline of advancing age. This is simply not true. French researchers recently found that immune systems of even the aged could be reversed. A group of institutionalized people, aged 73 to 106 years, was given a daily dose of 20 milligrams of zinc. All subjects were deficient in zinc. Their thymulin activity shot as much as 50 percent in just a couple of months. There were no side effects.

via Zinc, Tinnitus and Immune System Health - Tinnitus Information Center.

As they say, the dose is the poison. I don't think anyone should be taking more than 30 mg / day and what you should take really depends on what you are already getting in your diet. You can die from too much zinc.  What a world this is: If you wear false teeth, you might have zinc poisoning from denture creme. Too much zinc can cause  neurologic disease (panic attacks according to some, heart problems, etc.) and abnormally low copper levels in your blood (hypocupremia).

Zinc plays a role in building your DNA and RNA. Zinc also aides in the healing of wounds and is need for tasting and smelling. Keeping a normal level of zinc will help protect your from illness because zinc helps regulate your immune system. Zinc is found in seafood, lean beef and pork, nuts, eggs, cheese, poultry and soybeans.  ...

An overdose from a single large does of zinc can cause symptoms within 30 minutes. An acute overdose can cause severe nausea, vomiting, headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. ... A chronic overdose occurs when you consume slightly high doses of zinc on a regular basis for too long. Symptoms of a chronic overdose include a weakened immune system. If your immune system is weakened, your risk of urinary tract problem including infections is increased. Chronic overdose can lead to anemia, low levels of good cholesterol and a reduced ability to absorb antibiotics and other minerals like iron.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Recommended Daily Allowance of zinc for adult males is 11 mg and 8 mg for adult females. This is the minimum amount you would need to get from food or supplements to ensure that your body has enough zinc. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should not get more than 40 mg of zinc a day from food or supplements. Higher levels of zinc may lead to acute and chronic overdoses.

Zinc is an extremely most abundant trace element in the brain. Substantial amounts of zinc exist in the presynaptic vesicles, and are released with glutamate during the neuronal excitation. Synaptically-released zinc is believed to play crucial roles in normal brain functions. Therefore, zinc deficiency impairs brain development and capabilities of learning and memory. Notwithstanding, recent studies have indicated that excess zinc is linked with several neurodegenerative diseases and has a causative role in delayed neuronal death after transient global ischemia.

So, if I have ringing in my ears, I'll try a little bit of Wheat Germ

Toasted wheat germ provides 17mg of zinc per 100g serving which is 112% of the RDA, crude (untoasted) wheat germ provides 12mg (82% RDA).

Or pumpkin seeds or chocolate. This is great. Got me motivated to cut up those pumpkins and roast the seeds tonight with some butter, cinnamon and sea salt.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a cheap painless way to test your trace element levels? Here is one place, but I'm not sure of the prices.

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