In bone metabolism, zinc is needed to produce the matrix of collagen protein threads upon which the bone-forming calcium–phosphorus compound is deposited. It’s also necessary for the production of enzymes that degrade and recycle worn-out bits of bone protein. Proper calcium absorption also depends on zinc, and a deficiency prevents full absorption of calcium. It’s essential for bone healing, and increased amounts are found at the sites of bone repair. Low levels in the body have been closely linked with osteoporosis.
It’s unfortunate that in the face of declining intake and growing deficiencies of zinc in the American diet, authorities have seen fit to lower zinc requirements. Mild — but still clinically significant — zinc deficiency is widespread and far-reaching in its effects. The 2–3 grams of zinc found in the body act as a co-factor in over 200 enzymatic reactions that are instrumental in maintaining not just the health of our bones, but for optimal system-wide functioning.
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and speaker. Get my free weekly newsletter here.