Polly: One of Crook’s older books on the yeast syndrome encouraged the use of zinc. Why? Zinc is very important for the health of the intestines, lungs, and skin. It has been a big help to some people with dysbiosis. Perhaps compared to the rest of the population, many of us are relatively low in zinc. Hypothyroidism, estrogen dominance, and mercury poisoning, which many of us have, will tend to cause zinc deficiency.
A sign of zinc deficiency is white spots in the fingernails. Sometimes you will see white horizontal lines in the fingernails of women, corresponding to about once a month, when the woman is estrogen dominant.
To keep your zinc levels up naturally, you might try avoiding grains that are in the form of cereal or pasta, and substituting leavened bread or sprouted grain products. Grains contain phytic acid, which binds zinc and inhibits its absorption from the intestinal tract. However, the addition of yeast when making bread destroys the phytates. Sprouting the grains destroys the phytates too. The same caution goes for beans and soy products, which contain phytates. (The cookbook, Nourishing Traditions will teach you a lot about why the food preparation method is so important to good health. I highly recommend the book.) Alcohol depletes zinc, so avoid alcohol.
Zinc Taste Test
Marilyn in Seattle: Just wanted to say I passed the zinc taste test yesterday! It was my chiropractor that first gave me one of these tests. You drink a liquid (zinc sulphate I believe) and if you can’t taste the liquid, then you have a zinc deficiency. Well I first did this test in 1985 and have done a couple of times in the years since, but yesterday was the first time I could taste the bitterness.
Why the difference? One, I got rid of my amalgams and since zinc is a mercury antagonist, maybe I am not using it up so fast. Two, I think that the hydrochloric acid is a big component I was missing. I am a blood type A and we don’t secrete enough stomach acid anyway (I think this is why I have always loved coffee as it stimulates the release of hydrochloric acid and I was always convinced that coffee with breakfast made me feel better.) I think the HCL is helping me derive benefit from all these supplements I am taking. I have taken supplements for years and kept thinking they weren’t doing much, but now I think I wasn’t maybe digesting them properly. Also, it seems to be a feedback loop. I tested so low on zinc that I probably wasn’t producing enough hydrochloric acid, which probably interfered with breakdown/absorption of the zinc supplements I have been shoveling into me. Anyway, I passed! One small step at a time is what I am working on and it’s nice to see even one small victory.
Linda in Virginia: Marilyn – Congrats! I just recently was tested and was very low on zinc and had high mercury levels. Now I know the connection! Thanks.
Polly: I found an explanation of how to do the zinc taste test in the book Dental Mercury Detox by Sam Ziff. (See http://www.bioprobe.com ) You hold the liquid in your mouth. You should experience a “furry” unpleasant taste immediately or within 5 to 10 seconds. If not, then you need more zinc. Of course, no test is perfect for everyone. Use common sense. If you can’t find zinc sulfate liquid at your health store, then you can make your own by mixing 100 milligrams of zinc sulfate powder in 100 milliliters of water. Metagenics makes two liquid zinc sulfate products. One of these products is specifically for testing, called Tally Zinc. The other has to be diluted by about a factor of three if you want to use it for testing. If your vitamin store doesn’t carry Tally Zinc, the product can probably be ordered through the parent company, Ecological Formulas, phone (800) 351-9429
Be Careful With Zinc Or Iron
Polly: Zinc is very important for the health of the intestines. Yet, I’m still quite wary of zinc supplements. No one talks about the downside of taking too much zinc. Yet I suspect zinc poisoning can exist. More isn’t always better. In malnourished infants, a supplement of zinc was shown to encourage yeast growth.  This is an excerpt about zinc and iron from Raymond Peat’s 1985 lecture on Candidiasis, given to the Candida and Dysbiosis Information Foundation.
“Female animals are known to be able to take up iron out of their food much more efficiently than male animals or non-pregnant animals. … If you give extra iron to a pregnant animal or an animal under the influence of estrogen, it is much easier to poison the animal because they are in a state receptive to absorbing iron … … iron stimulates their growth [the growth of yeast cells] and their formation of mycelia. Zinc at a high level does the same thing, at a level you can reach if you take a zinc supplement. … But just the iron associated with an ordinary diet and high estrogen, the amount of iron that the body gets soaked with eventually, is stimulatory to the yeast, whereas a supplement of zinc seems to be necessary to reach that same pro-candida level.”
Have you ever noticed how much iron some doctors routinely prescribe to their pregnant patients? A pregnant friend of mine was given a prescription for 150 mg of elemental iron per day. (This is equivalent to about 800 mg of iron sulfate.) She wasn’t anemic. The RDA for iron is only 18 mg per day. Why so much?
If you have anemia, it isn’t necessarily due to a lack of iron. A lack of vitamin B12, A or E could also cause it. The problem could also be due to a lack of copper, since the transport of iron in the intestines is dependent on a copper-containing enzyme.  In fact, if you were low on copper, it wouldn’t be a good idea to supplement just iron. Iron competes with copper and could thus suppress your copper levels further. Before trying iron, you might employ a homeopathic remedy called Ferrum Phos. It gets rid of anemia by mobilizing the iron stored in the body.
If you must take iron, consider a supplement of lactoferrin. Lactoferrin binds iron and makes it unavailable to the yeast and bacteria in the gut, yet your body can obtain the iron. (Lactoferrin is found in colostrum, undenatured whey, and raw milk products. Allergy Research / Nutricology makes a separate supplement of lactoferrin. It is rather expensive.) Also, the iron salts in supplements can destroy vitamin E.  Possibly take your vitamin E supplement at a different meal than the iron supplement. The iron supplement will also decrease zinc levels, so be careful. Here is an article by Leo Galland, MD, on the dangers of iron supplements, and how to use them properly.