The Best Test for Zinc Deficiency is RBC (Red Blood Cell)

Apr 2, 2024 | autoimmune disease, Nutritional Supplements, Thyroid, zinc

Zinc Rich Supplement by Dr David Bilstrom Autoimmune Functional Medicine Doctor

Zinc is a crucial mineral that your body relies on for essential functions and optimal performance. It is considered an essential mineral because your body cannot produce it naturally, so you must obtain it through diet and/or supplements.

Zinc Rich Supplement by Dr David Bilstrom Autoimmune Functional Medicine Doctor
Note: In Dr. Bilstrom’s book: The Nurse Practitioners’ Guide to Autoimmune Medicine, he recommends ZnZYme as a zinc supplement, which has now been replaced with Dr. David Bilstrom’s Zinc Rich nutraceutical grade supplement. Zinc is involved in more than 300 enzymatic processes in the body, making it one of the most important trace minerals for optimal health.

Top ways zinc contributes to your health:

  1. Immune System Support: Zinc is known for its immune-boosting properties. It can help your body ward off illnesses and infections by supporting the function of the thymus gland, which is responsible for producing T-cells, a critical component of the immune system.
  2. Insulin Regulation: Zinc plays a vital role in stabilizing insulin levels and is particularly important for the pancreas and beta cells. Adequate zinc intake can help prevent insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes. Zinc deficiency can lead to beta cell fatigue, increasing the risk of developing diabetes and its complications.
  3. Skin Health: Zinc can promote healthy skin by aiding in the production of collagen, which is essential for skin elasticity and healing. Zinc deficiency can lead to various skin problems, such as eczema, acne, dermatitis, and slow wound healing.
  4. Digestive Health: It can also support your digestive system, ensuring proper absorption of nutrients. Zinc plays a role in maintaining the integrity of the gastrointestinal lining and supporting proper digestive function.
  5. Anti-Inflammatory: Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial in addressing autoimmune disease. Zinc deficiency has been linked to increased inflammation and a weakened immune response.
  6. Thyroid Function: Zinc is essential for the production and conversion of thyroid hormones. A deficiency in zinc can lead to hypothyroidism and autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease. Zinc also plays a crucial role in DNA synthesis, cell functioning, and hormone production, all of which are important for maintaining optimal thyroid health.
  7. Brain Health: Zinc plays a crucial role in brain development and function. It supports cognitive abilities and helps reduce the risk of brain fog and poor concentration.
  8. Night Vision: Zinc is necessary for activating vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining healthy night vision. A deficiency in zinc can lead to impaired night vision, even if vitamin A intake is adequate.

Causes of Zinc Deficiency:

Several factors can contribute to zinc deficiency, including:

  1. Poor dietary intake, especially in vegetarian and vegan diets
  2. High intake of refined carbs and sugar, which can interfere with zinc absorption
  3. Chronic stress (cortisol imbalance), which can deplete zinc levels
  4. Malabsorption due to gut issues like leaky gut, IBS, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis
  5. Phytic acid in grains, which can bind to zinc and reduce its bioavailability
  6. Low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria), which can impair zinc absorption
  7. Excessive alcohol consumption, which can lead to zinc depletion
  8. Certain medications, such as birth control pills, can also interfere with zinc absorption and contribute to deficiency

Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency can manifest in various ways, and it’s essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms. Some common indications that you may be lacking in zinc include:

  1. Impaired Immune Function: Zinc plays a crucial role in supporting your immune system and helping your body fight off infections.
  2. Skin Issues: Zinc is essential for healthy skin. If you’re experiencing persistent acne, eczema, dermatitis, or slow wound healing, it may be a signal that your body needs more zinc.
  3. Hair Loss: Thinning hair, brittle hair, or even hair loss can be linked to zinc deficiency. Zinc is involved in hair growth and helps maintain the health of your hair follicles.
  4. Digestive Problems: Zinc is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your gut lining. If you’re experiencing frequent digestive issues like diarrhea, bloating, or abdominal pain, it could be related to low zinc levels.
  5. Mood Changes: Zinc plays a role in brain function and neurotransmitter production. If you’re struggling with mood changes, irritability, or even depression, it may be a sign that your zinc levels are imbalanced.
  6. Impaired Taste and Smell: Zinc is essential for your senses of taste and smell. If you’ve noticed a decrease in your ability to taste or smell, it could be a red flag for zinc deficiency.
  7. Hormonal Imbalances: Zinc is involved in hormone production and regulation. If you’re experiencing symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, such as irregular periods or low libido, it may be connected to inadequate zinc levels.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider and if getting tested, make sure your zinc test is an RBC (red blood cell) test to assess your zinc levels accurately.

Ideally your healthcare provider is interested in solving the root cause of your symptoms.  A great guidebook you can recommend they read (and you too!) is Dr. David Bilstrom’s book: The Nurse Practitioners’ Guide to Autoimmune Medicine.  Reversing and Preventing All Autoimmunity. It does a deep dive into all types of blood testing and explains the optimal ranges for reversing and preventing all types of autoimmune disease.

The Right Way to Test for for Zinc Deficiency

When it comes to assessing your zinc levels, not all tests are created equal. While many healthcare providers rely on serum zinc tests, these can be misleading and may not provide an accurate picture of your body’s true zinc status. The most reliable way to determine if you’re zinc deficient is through a zinc red blood cell (RBC) test, which measures the concentration of zinc inside your cells, where it matters most. Dr. Bilstrom recommends RBC Zinc (>12).

Why Serum Zinc Tests Fall Short

Serum zinc tests only measure the amount of zinc in your blood, which can fluctuate based on recent meals, stress levels, and other factors. This means that a serum zinc test may show normal levels, even if you’re actually deficient in zinc. On the other hand, a zinc RBC test provides a more stable and accurate assessment of your body’s zinc stores, as it measures the zinc concentration within your red blood cells.

The Autoimmune Hope Connection

If you or a loved one are dealing with autoimmune disease, Dr. Bilstrom’s autoimmune functional medicine approach offers a ray of hope.

Autoimmune disease can be challenging, but with the right guidance and protocols that address the root cause of why you have autoimmune disease, there is hope for reversing, healing, and preventing them.

One of the keys to this hope is understanding the role of nutrients like zinc in supporting your immune system and overall health. Zinc deficiency is common among individuals with autoimmune disease, and addressing this deficiency can be a crucial step in reversing symptoms, promoting healing and preventing future autoimmune issues.

Remember, you have the power to take control of your health and embark on a journey towards healing and prevention.  By delving deeper into the world of autoimmune functional medicine, you can unlock the potential to transform your life and well-being.

Explore Dr. David Bilstrom’s “Autoimmune Hope” course to gain a deeper understanding of functional medicine and how it can make a significant difference in your life.

In conclusion, zinc is a valuable tool in the world of Autoimmune Functional Medicine. By addressing zinc deficiency and supporting overall health, zinc supplementation can be a game-changer in your wellness journey.

“Got a Revolution, got to Revolution.”  Jefferson Airplane


Dr. David Bilstrom
Autoimmune Functional Medicine Doctornatural treatment for autoimmune disease by Dr David Bilstrom Functional Medicine Doctor MD



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