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Best tests for mineral status, especially zinc and copper

by 610 · January 26, 2012 at 12:55 AM

I took a zinc tally taste test recently, and it tasted like water, apparently indicating a zinc deficiency. I've been dealing with dysbiosis/leaky gut for 7 or 8 years now, so my zinc could be depleted or not absorbing properly. We also have acidic well water and copper pipes (though we do run the water 3 minutes before drinking it), so copper could be outcompeting zinc for absorbtion.

After some research and discussion I'm convinced that I need to proceed with supplementation carefully. I'd like to get some tests done to see where I stand now, especially with zinc and copper.

Travis Culp suggested that serum levels of minerals are misleading and very poorly reflect the body's mineral pools.

What is a reliable way to gauge the body's mineral pools? I've heard strikes against serum testing and hair mineral analysis, but I imagine nothing's perfect. I'd also like to avoid breaking the bank. Suggestions?

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53 · ABOUT 17 HOURS AGO

I"ve heard good things about the Spectracell test.

http://www.spectracell.com/products/micronutrient-testing-product-specifications/

Anyone else have an opinion?

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39204 · ABOUT 17 HOURS AGO

I think the best way for a male is via proxy, i.e. if your testosterone is low, then odds are it's the result of a zinc deficiency. If you weren't able or willing to actually test for the serum level, you could then gauge that by proxy as well (libido, inconvenient tumescence etc.).

Copper's a little bit trickier, though a deficiency will result in cardiac arrhythmias. Overshooting with zinc can create a copper deficiency, so you could conceivably trade one for the other.

Regarding supplementation, I favor including oysters in the diet for zinc, though simply eating red meat primarily, which we probably should be doing anyway, will correct the deficiency over time. For copper, liver's the best route, and again we should be eating that anyway.

Something to keep in mind is that a wild human is routinely over-consuming most minerals and excreting the excess, so if you simply eat an evolutionarily-appropriate diet, any existing deficiencies will be addressed automagically. On the other hand, it may be advantageous to accelerate the process, so oysters a few times a week and 50g of liver a few times a week on non-oyster days for a few weeks would likely make a noticeable difference. I went a bit overboard with zinc picolinate and would have favored a food approach were I to replay things. Oysters contain some copper and liver contains some zinc, so an imbalance is at least less likely.

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20762 · ABOUT 17 HOURS AGO

This was just on the latest Chris Kresser podcast. He's not convinced that the taste test is very accurate and he relies on a certain blood test which I forget the name of. But check out that podcast, it should have the details you care about regarding copper and zinc.

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8883 · ABOUT 17 HOURS AGO

Jack Kruse has posted an interesting article about this.

This is what he says about zinc :

Zinc deficiency can result in hair loss in case of cells on the scalp and lesions on the skin. This is one of the prominent signs of zinc deficiency. This also is important testosterone synthesis. Zinc is actually an aromatase inhibitor too. This means it decreases the conversion of testosterone to DHT and to Estradiol (E2). So if one is taking too much it can actually cause your hormone panels to be altered. Another more common finding with a zinc deficiency is an alteration of tasting and smelling things. They often report a lack of smell or a metallic taste in their mouths. I have seen this often in patients who are pre diabetic and do not realize they are becoming diabetic. It is now most common in young men with early onset andropause.

He also says magnesium deficient people tend to sweat a lot, iron deficient people often have spoon shaped nail beds on the hands and feet with ridges in them, and lots of other things.

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968 · ABOUT 17 HOURS AGO

I'm fairly sure excess copper in your system depletes zinc. The taste test you did is quite a good one. We used to do it all the time for customers were I work. It tastes absolutely aweful when your zinc levels are correct. Maybe taking a zinc supplement, or dosing up on oysters and pepitas would be good. And you may want to consider getting a water distiller.

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19504 · ABOUT 17 HOURS AGO

http://www.exatest.com/ is the gold standard for minerals. However does not cover copper or zinc...

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