Zinc as a Nootropic
A player of ubiquitous biological roles in the mind and body.
Zinc modulates brain excitability and plays an important role in Neuroplasticity. Zinc is found in virtually every tissue in the body and plays a role in up to 300 different types of chemical reactions in the body.
This article is mostly going to focus on decoding what the human studies are saying about Zinc and how this squares up with the anecdotal experiences of Biohackers online. For more of my own personal experiences, thoughts, and comparisons please see the written and video reviews in the sidebar.
It’s one of the most studied nutrients on the planet, on Pubmed you can find over 43,000 scientific articles of human research and over 2000 clinical trials. That’s an impressive body of research!
Zinc[Title/Abstract] - PubMed - NCBI
PubMed comprises more than 29 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and…
A 2009 University of Calgary study, published in Brain research reviews stated:
…evidence gathered from electrophysiological, behavioural, and anatomical experiments are utilized to argue for a role of zinc in cortical plasticity.
This means that Zinc is an essential driver of Neuroplasticity in our minds. Neuroplasticity is the scientific term that covers virtually all domains of personal development:
- Learn new career skill sets.
- Playing a musical instrument.
- Changing behavioral patterns in your interpersonal relationships.
- Learning a new language.
- Recovery from brain damage.
According to a 2007 University of Colorado paper, Zinc deficiency is a global problem, even in developed countries and results in anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, hyperactivity, irritability, schizophrenia, autism and low libido. The deficiency also manifests itself physically as stunted growth in children, diarrhea, hair loss, and dry skin. Vegetarians are at the highest risk for Zinc deficiency but it’s also a problem for alcoholics and women on birth control.
A Swiss paper called Zinc “the brain’s dark horse” and went on to say about it:
Thus, zinc homeostasis is integral to normal central nervous system functioning, and in fact its role may be underappreciated.
The paper went on to describe how Zinc plays a critical part in the chemical-electrical signal being sent from one part of the body to another.
Zinc minimizes oxidative stress that causes you to age prematurely and feel overwhelmed. Jonathan and Woody discuss Zinc and other stress-busting nutrients in Podcast #13 Life Hacking Stress.
Zinc supplementation is a great idea for anybody who’s profession places high cognitive performance demands on them; accountants, bankers, surgeons, daytraders, programmers, executives or professionals who just need to remember a lot of mission-critical data.
A 2007 paper, published in The Journal of international medical research, The influence of micronutrients on cognitive function and performance stated:
The searches confirmed that the water-soluble vitamins (B group and C), together with the minerals, calcium, magnesium and zinc, are most relevant to cognitive performance.
The influence of micronutrients
There has been much media speculation (often sensationalist and conflicting) regarding the potential influence of…
Zinc is synonymous with a high protein diet; especially the red meats and seafood, some great sources include salmon, lamb, eggs, and beef. As such vegetarians and vegans should supplement or at least eat a bunch of pumpkin seeds!
A 6 week, double-blind Tehran University study of 44 children demonstrated Zinc as statistically effective in treating ADHD. To quote the study:
This double-blind, placebo-controlled study demonstrated that zinc as a supplementary medication might be beneficial in the treatment of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Zinc is a major component of maintaining healthy testosterone for men. A 2006 Turkish study of wrestlers demonstrated that oral Zinc supplementation was beneficial. This drastically affects many dimensions of the male experience:
- Physical performance and energy
- Building muscle and strength
- Ambition and productivity
- Sex drive
- Stress management
More good news, it’s also a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals and is particularly good at detoxifying the brain from heavy metals like iron.
- It’s a particularly good idea to take Zinc with water-soluble B Vitamins.
- A Saudi Arabian study demonstrated an anti-aging effect of Zinc wherein the nutrient played a beneficial role in diminishing cumulative oxidative changes.
- A report on Longecity.org about Zinc+Lysine: “I’m quite surprised with the noticeable effects on cognition… Really gives me a calm and sharp boost throughout the day for some reason.”
- It’s a good idea to take a copper supplement to balance Zinc supplementation if you don’t eat liver regularly.
15 Milligrams. WebMD.com does not advise more than 40 Milligrams per day.
More than 40 Milligrams can result in fever, coughing, stomach ache and fatigue.
Conflicts: Not recommended with certain antibiotics (Quinolone & Tetracycline)