It has been estimated that the daily minimum requirement of man is approximately 15mg. Scientists say that in the past, good nutrition supplied just that much, mainly because soil was richer in zinc and people made use of galvanized (zinc coated) cooking utensils and water pipes.
Modern man has depleted what was once essentially fertile soil, and modern fertilizing generally provides minerals inadequately.
Dr. Pfeiffer states that soil depletion is more severe than generally recognized. "Many factors decrease the effective zinc in food and water in modern society. If the plant, grain, fruit or nut has enough zinc from the soil, then we will have a normal zinc level."
Modern food processing also removes zinc. Milling reduces the zinc level of wheat flour by 80 percent, cornstarch contains considerably less zinc than corn meal and frozen vegetables such as frozen peas, broccoli or spinach have been treated with the chelating agent EDTA, which not only makes the vegetables look bright green, but also removes zinc as well as calcium and manganese. Whatever trace of these essential minerals is left after commercial food processing, we often discard after cooking and pour down the drain, for much of it remains in the cooking water.
To make matters worse, copper antagonizes zinc, and since much of our water is known to be high in copper (thanks to copper plumbing), the already inadequate zinc intake will be counteracted and decreased even more. This explains why people generally have a high copper level and a zinc deficiency at the same time.
It has also been found that meals served in cafeterias, hospitals and other institutions have extremely low zinc contents and eating such diets, over a period of time, most likely results in a more severe zinc deficiency.
Zinc deficiency symptoms such as white spots on fingernails are not only the result of an inadequate diet, however. An increased estrogen ingestion, as is the case when taking contraceptive pills, raises serum copper and consequently lowers serum zinc. As Dr. Pfeiffer points out, the hormone level is closely related to a woman’s nail condition and when men take estrogen, for instance, their nails soon become weak and brittle.
Menstrual periods, which indicate a change in hormone levels, cause a drop in serum zinc and a rise in serum copper, which results in a rhythmic pattern of white spots as can be seen in the illustration.
Serious colds, virus infections, or other severe stresses also cause a loss of zinc, resulting in nail abnormalities such as white spots and furrows.
Fasting contributes to and exaggerates a zinc deficiency. Only a day or two of fasting has been known to cause white spots on nails.
An adult’s nail growth is 0.104mm to 0.108mm per day; it takes approximately four weeks to notice the white spot that has been caused by today’s zinc deficiency or injury and 51/2 to 6 months pass before an adult’s nail is completely replaced. Considering this, it is quite possible to determine whether the white spot patterns follow the regular monthly cycle, or are the result of irregularities, such as occasional fastings, health problems or a perpetual zinc deficiency.
Again, improving your diet should take care of the problem. The best sources of zinc are milk, oysters, herrings and clams; pork and beef liver contain considerable amounts, and so does lamb and beef. Chicken is also rich in zinc. The plant foods highest in zinc are: wheat bran, whole grains, nuts and green leafy vegetables. Many fruits contain zinc, but again, the actual level depends on the soil in which they were grown and that goes for all foods.
Animals that are fed a poor diet will also be poor mineral sources and especially in the case of a zinc deficiency. The obvious answer is mineral supplementation. Improve your diet and, by the end of summer, your nails should be healthy and beautiful.
Bestways – June 1979, page 97