Sunday, 18 October 2009

Day 299 - Zinc

“Along with calcium and iron, zinc is probably the most important mineral to the human body. Zinc plays a crucial role in growth and cell division where it is required for protein and DNA synthesis, in insulin activity, in the metabolism of the ovaries and testes, and in liver function. It is particularly important for healthy skin and is essential for a healthy immune system and resistance to infection, as it helps with the healing of wounds. As a component of many enzymes, zinc is involved in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and energy.

Our body contains about 2-3g of zinc. There are no specific storage sites known for zinc and so a regular supply in the diet is required. Zinc is found in all parts of our body, 60% is found in muscle, 30% in bone and about 5% in our skin. Particularly high concentrations are in the prostate gland and semen. Men need more zinc than women because male semen contains 100 times more zinc than is found in the blood. The more sexually active a man the more zinc he will require.

The first signs of zinc deficiency are impairment of taste, a poor immune response and skin problems. Other symptoms of zinc deficiency can include hair loss, diarrhoea, fatigue, delayed wound healing, and decreased growth rate and mental development in infants. It is thought that zinc supplementation can help skin conditions such as acne and eczema, prostate problems, anorexia nervosa, alcoholics and those suffering from trauma or post-surgery.

Zinc is contained in a wide range of foods but the richest sources are meat (lamb in particular), oats, eggs, nuts and oysters. Only 20% of the zinc present in the diet is actually absorbed by the body. Dietary fibre and phytic acid, found in bran, wholegrain cereals, pulses and nuts, inhibit zinc absorption. Phytic acid forms a highly insoluble complex with zinc which the body cannot absorb. Cooking processes can reduce the adverse effects of both phytic acid and dietary fibre on zinc absorption. Baking can destroy over half the phytic acid in wholemeal bread.

Zinc deficiency occurs where a large part of the diet consists of unleavened bread, such as Iran and other Middle East countries. High levels of the toxic mineral cadmium can also prevent zinc absorption because these two minerals compete for absorption. Conversely high levels of zinc in the diet can prevent the absorption of cadmium. Various chemicals added to many processed foods can also reduce zinc absorption eg phosphates, EDTA. Zinc is lost via the faeces, urine, hair, skin, sweat, semen and also menstruation.”*

I have been off the blogging radar for a few weeks - I have managed to start working again! What excitement at the age of 25. The headache seems to have stabilized itself to about 3 to 4/10 (when standing) which is great. When lying down it continues to be worse, about 6/10.

I have been seeing the kinesiologist on a regular basis, who has been looking at a number of headache causes from cranial faults to vitamin deficiencies. I am now taking zinc supplements. I recently learned that a zinc deficiency can cause, or certainly exacerbate, everything from acne to diabetes. This is because zinc is needed by the body to make insulin (the hormone that regulates glucose levels in the blood), eliminate harmful toxins, and to maintain a healthy immune system.

Yesterday I also went to see one of the top neurologists at Queen’s Square in London, reputedly the place to go when you’ve given up with everyone else. I was surprised the doctor was glad to hear I was not taking any medication; he encouraged me to continue without, given my progress in the past few months.

“There are a number of patients in the ward upstairs who have had a headache for twenty years” he told me. “They have all been on heavy medication for all that time, and you have no idea how much worse their headache is now as a result of that”. He did, however, give me some suggestions as to what to take should the headache get worse again and should I decide to start taking some medicines. It was certainly refreshing to hear a doctor of western medicine encourage me to “see where your natural path takes you”.

He also explained that given my family’s history of migraines, he believes it is perfectly normal to have started suffering from a headache/migraine at my age, in particular given that I am female. He explained that sometimes these bizarre constant headaches go away by themselves, while other times they stay... for a long, long time.


  1. Great to hear you are working again! Brava!

  2. Woo Hoo!! Hope the zinc is the magic pill that does the trick..

    Back to work is marvelous news. Good luck!

  3. I know, all very exciting! Let's just hope it stays as it is and gets better. Fingers crossed.

    Thanks for reading!

  4. Hi there,
    I've just skimmed over your blog and it is all very familiar to me. I got a headache 2.5 years ago and its still going. I never suffered from headaches in the past, so I know my body is trying to tell me something is wrong, but I'm still to figure out what it is. I laughed at your comment on how many people follow up your explanation of it being 24/7 without any break at all with the question 'so do you have it right now' - I have the same problem with getting the point across! It seems noone can quite believe it except those going through it. I've looked into a lot of the same things you have but still have no answer and haven't found anything that makes any particular difference - it frustratingly just does its own thing. I've spent a lot of time with endocrinologists for various tests. If you haven't been to one yet I recommend it even though it hasn't been the answer to my mystery as yet. I'm currently at the point of being 'all tested out' by the specialists. As I'm 'clinically well' they consider I should just wait it out and they hope it'll sort itself out, but I don't think they can understand why someone in this situation needs to keep looking for the answer. I'm thinking of finding a Headache Centre somewhere, even if it's in the US or Europe, but I don't know whether they'll have any further things to test than the Endocrinologists, Neurologists and Cardiologists here in London I've already seen.
    Anyway, good luck with your search.

  5. hi there

    thanks for reading! about the 24/7 thing, i am glad you also know how unbelievably frustrating it is.

    i am curious as to why you suggest seeing an endocrinologist if you havent had any answers from one? incidentally the kinesiologist gave me some homeopathic drops to balance out estrogen and progesterone which i took for a while.

    at the moment i am going through a good patch with the headache hovering between 2/10 and 5/10 although it remains a mystery to me as to why it does this, and then why it worsens!

    Let me know if anyone sheds some light on the matter! What are you doing now to alleviate the pain though? Western medicines or alternative therapies?

    Good luck with everything!

  6. Hi,
    Some endocrine disorders or imbalances can cause headache, so I think its worth getting checked out. It hasn't been the answer for me yet, but they have found a few anomolies in my endocrine system, so if it gets really bad again, they'll test me again.
    I'm not taking an medicines. They weren't giving me any relief anyway, and they were creating confusion as to what was a symptom of the headache or the medicines. I'm a big believer that just one symptom may lead them to narrow it down in the right direction, so I don't want to muddy the picture. So, for the last year, my only therapy has been sleeping well, eating well, and removing stressful things and people from my life. I dont think it makes the headache any better, but it makes me able to cope with it better.
    When my symptoms get higher, about 4-5/10 or more then I go back to the specialists for more tests. When they're lower, I just try to carry on as tests done at that low level aren't conclusive anyway for a lot of things. I've been at around 2-3/10 for the last year now, so that's why I'm all tested out for the moment. If it gets a lot worse again, I'm going to have a lumbar puncture because IIH is also a possibility for me.

  7. Hi don't know if your blog is still going and how your getting on with your headache but i fully understand your pain. I am a 47 year old male who has suffered this type of head for 27 years people just don't understand when you tell them you have a headache all the time. My life has been totally destroyed by these headaches no one understands. I hope you have found some relief.


  8. I am on day 500+ of permanent headache. I am on #4 nuerologist. Also diagnosed with hemicrania continua, with steriods and indocine to keep the pain from 8/10 to 3/10. Everyday is a nightmare. I am a 29 yr old single mother in PAIN! The one thing about my dignosis that strikes me as odd is that none od my doctors have tried the IH test for me, I fit this type of headache more than anything. I was also diagnosed with a Pineal Gland Brain Tumor in August 2012, the very spot where spinal fluid would drain from the brain. I have one last doctors appointment with Wake Forest Babtist Hospital, hoping for some better news!

  9. Hi,

    I am 24 years old, living in London, also seeing a top consultant at Queens Square. I have been suffering from chronic migraine and constant headache for nearly 7 years. It got worse in the last 2 years and I have not been able to start work since graduating from university. None of his drugs and injections worked for me.

    I am now very keen on following a natural path to reduce the intensity of my headache and be able to live most days and maybe even start work. I would very much appreciate it if you could tell me how you managed to reduce your headache to a manageable level and get yourself back to work. Or any other tips you might have. Of course, like everyone, I have tried the works in terms of medicine and alternative medicine but anything you could suggest could be helpful! Many thanks

  10. Hello, thanks for your message. I am sorry to hear you are also plagued with such a horrid headache.

    My headache seems to have got better over the past few years, although I do still have times when the pain suddenly increases (go figure why), but overall it is much much better than it was at first. As I have been seeing my kinesiologist on a regular basis for over three years, I can only attribute this improvement to be thanks to him.

    He is based outside of London in Walton-on-Thames. You can drop him an email at . I would definitely recommend meeting with him to see how it goes. I originally started seeing him as my friend who put me in touch had had a constant headache for six months and he was the only one who seemed to be able to sort it out. Unfortunately, my headache persists, but as I say it has got better. Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

    Happy to chat further...

  11. Have you considered a magnesium deficiency? It's been linked to headaches. Additionally, it can be very hard for some people to absorb through food. Ancient Minerals makes a transdermal (absorbed through the skin) magnesium spray. Might be worth a shot.