Polyphenols as Zinc Ionophores
Polyphenols as Zinc Ionophores. Everyone is concerned right now about keeping safe and healthy with the still present coronavirus. Now with back to school season, it’s more nerve-wracking because our kids can be exposed to it unintentionally. Let’s be honest, kids are going to be swapping masks like Pokemon cards. We can’t protect them as much from exposure at this point.
What we can do is boost their immune systems (and our own).
A lot of times we immediately opt for vitamin C. That’s a good thing to go for, but there are several other really important vitamins and minerals that can boost our immune systems.
One of the most important minerals we can provide our body with is zinc.
What is Zinc?
If you remember way back to middle or high school, you probably learned about the elements on the periodic table. Zinc (Zn) is one of the elements you’ll find there. It is found in trace amounts in our bodies and is essential for good immune health.
There are several other trace elements that are important to our health like iron, manganese, and selenium. Zinc is extremely important for immune health because it is found in nearly every immune cell in our bodies.
Our modern diets, especially in the western world often leave us zinc-deficient. This is especially the case for vegans and vegetarians since the majority of our zinc is obtained through red meats and other animal products. While there are a few other foods you can get zinc from, the major source is through the meat. To find other good sources of zinc, check out the National Institute of Health (NIH) profile of zinc.
Zinc quantities vary by age and sex.
For adult males, you should aim for a daily intake of about 11 mg of zinc, while adult females should aim for 8 mg. If women are pregnant or breastfeeding they should aim for closer to 11-12 mg according to the NIH.
The elderly are at a higher risk of zinc deficiency since chelation therapy became a health fad in the 1940s. Chelation was a big deal since people were exposed to high levels of lead, mercury, and other toxic substances. Chelation therapy is essentially a magnet for these substances that it binds to them and allows your body to pass them.
While this is great for dangerous toxins, it isn’t discriminatory against good vs bad. So while these chelators sucked out mercury and lead they were also attracting copper and zinc which our bodies need to maintain homeostasis.
Chelation therapy has been found to be helpful with certain conditions like kidney, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases. However, it should only be done under the close supervision of a medical professional. Chelation and improper diet can lead to abnormally low zinc levels.
What Happens When Zinc Levels Are Too Low or Too High
When zinc levels aren’t balanced, it can cause all sorts of problems. Depending on if you have too much zinc or too little zinc will dictate which symptoms you have.
If you have low levels of zinc, your immune cells aren’t able to fight properly. Think about the times you’ve eaten really unhealthy and how your body and brain feel. You’re often in a fog and your reflexes are a little slower. Your immune cells react the same way when zinc levels aren’t optimal. They don’t react to stimulus in the way they should so your body is left mostly defenseless.
Low zinc levels can lead to:
- Thyroid imbalance
- Thymus atrophy
- Overproduction of inflammatory mediators
- Less regulatory T cells and B cells
When you have too much zinc, your body doesn’t know what to do with it. But since zinc can help with controlling when certain processes of your immune system are activated, the excess can cause an overreaction of your immune system.
Too much zinc leads to:
- B and T cell suppression
- Too many regulatory T cells
- Macrophage activation (cells that eat other cells)
When these things happen the macrophages need to find cells to eat. If they don’t find any invaders, they can mistake healthy cell tissues for being unhealthy. This overactivation leads to an increase in allergies and autoimmune disorders.
The Problem With Zinc
Zinc isn’t able to move freely throughout your body. It needs to be escorted from one area to another — especially when it comes to crossing the cell membrane. These escorts are called ionophores.
Ionophores are essential for allowing the right nutrients to pass through the membrane so they can carry out the tasks they need to. The membranes are there to prevent bacteria and viruses from damaging your cells. But they make it difficult for our good minerals to do their jobs.
The most commonly known zinc ionophores are proteins. However, they aren’t the only ones.
You may have recently heard about the FDA talking about using chloroquine against COVID-19. Chloroquine is actually a zinc ionophore. Before you go out and try to get some chloroquine though, it isn’t the safest option.
The FDA is even cautioning its usage because it can cause problems like “blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failure.”
Polyphenols are actually being found to be great zinc ionophores.
A study tested zinc levels within cells without and using the polyphenols,
Quercetin and EGCG. The tests ran without the polyphenols had lower accessible zinc levels while the test with polyphenols had a significantly higher accessible amount of zinc. These results show that polyphenols are able to increase the functionality of zinc within our bodies.
Quercetin has also been proven to help fight respiratory illnesses and other health problems in the past like RSV and influenza A viruses.
Zinc and quercetin are looking to be a very promising prevention and treatment combination when it comes to COVID-19. Quercetin would help to make the zinc accessible to your immune cells. The zinc itself has been proven to help fight respiratory infections that are of bacterial and viral origin. Zinc has been shown to have epigenetic factors allowing it to disrupt the mechanism that allows RNA viruses like COVID-19 to attack the immune system.
Eating a well-balanced diet that includes zinc-filled foods and polyphenols or taking supplements, like Atrantil which contains polyphenols, can help to ease your mind and improve your family’s immune systems.
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