23 Feb

ZINC by AJC1 on flickr

“Take zinc for feet stink.”  Willa Shaffer

Miss Willa used to say this and all sorts of other little health mantras to remind folks of their nutritional needs in the most simple ways.

She wasn’t much on fuss and muss, believing that simple nutritional deficiencies cause all our health problems.  She definitely preached the gospel of “listen to your body.” She was a unique mentor who I traveled with extensively in my teens.  An herbalist and midwife, she educated me thoroughly by sharing these little health tidbits.  Personal experiences and her whimsical sayings were a big part of my school of life.

Willa’s nutritional research has been published in several books, including her own and the knowledge she passed on is often still referred to by studies and doctors alike.

I feel fortunate to have witnessed her hungry mind in action and received the gifts of her intimate knowledge over the years.

Why do I share all this?  It’s just my effort to add color and relation the very dry and boring subject of a mineral called zinc.

Willa made nutrition fun and interesting, approachable.  I’ve found over time that many of my clients are afraid to ask me about some sensitive subjects like impotence, skin rashes and foot odor to name a few.  All of these can be side-effects of zinc deficiency.

It’s really amazing how much trouble this one little mineral can cause when we don’t have enough of it everyday.

As far as foot odor goes, the corn chip scent that emanates from your socks can be the first sign of a low zinc count, while a vinegar smell is representative of extreme zinc deficiency.

Men use up zinc much faster than women but male and female teenagers tend to have a high requirement for this simple mineral and use it equally.  Besides building immunity to infection, zinc is vital for male virility.


  • growth retardation in children
  • delayed sexual maturation and impotence
  • hair loss
  • diarrhea
  • eye and skin problems
  • weight loss
  • wounds taking a long time to heal
  • loss of taste / appetite
  • mental lethargy


  • heals ulcers
  • regulates hormones
  • strengthens the immune system
  • improves white blood cell count to fight illness
  • synthesizes enzymes in the body
  • maintains a healthy digestive system
  • has anti-inflammatory effects, reducing sore throats, acne and more dangerous conditions such as heart disease


  • alcoholics
  • vegetarians
  • those with digestive problems
  • pregnant and lactating women
  • people with sickle-cell disease
  • infants who are exclusively breast-fed for more than six months

Too much zinc can also be harmful with side-effects that include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and headaches.  Since zinc blocks the absorption of copper, you will want to keep it all in balance.  Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any zinc supplementation.

As for my old friend, Miss Willa, this won’t be the last you hear of her.  One day, I’ll regale you with all the sordid details of her research into the use of Mexican Wild Yam as a natural birth control!

3 Responses to “ZINC”

  1. Marilyn Arnold Machen Harding February 24, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    Very good and informative article. There is a distant relative in the extended family who at some point had to get dentures. She is now having a problem with zinc overload because zinc is in the material used to help the dentures adhere to the gums. This was an ‘eye opener’ for me since I’m not familiar with dentures or the creams used. I protect myself from colds and other maladies during the winter by using a zinc supplement.


    • Lynn Van Noy February 24, 2011 at 8:15 am #

      Yes maam! There are different kinds of dental procedures & dentures that are a little less espensive but detrimental in the long run. Go for the pricier cemented kind if ya can. Zinc overload can cause major problems.



  1. Tweets that mention ZINC « -- Topsy.com - February 23, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by lynnivere, Lynn Van Noy LMT CH. Lynn Van Noy LMT CH said: WELL BEING: Zinc —> "Take zinc for feet stink." Willa Shaffer http://wp.me/sBpjO-zinc […]


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