Welcome to the third part of our ‘Minerals that help trigger sleep’ series.
Last week we looked at our fourth trace element- Magnesium also known as Mg. Those who suffer from insomnia, often suffer from magnesium deficiency.
Today, we focus on our fifth, and final, trace element- Zinc also known as Zn.
What is the link between zinc and sleep?
Zinc is one of the three minerals that have a sedative effect on the nervous system (the others are calcium and magnesium). Zinc is well-known for its restorative effects and is often used to promote recovery post-exercise. It is also thought to help mental recovery post-stress.
A research study by Rondanelli et al (2011) titled 'The effect of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents in Italy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial' looked at the administration of nightly melatonin, magnesium, and zinc appeared to improve the quality of sleep and the quality of life in long-term care facility residents with primary insomnia.
It is thought that whilst the melatonin helped with sleep onset, it was the magnesium and zinc that had a beneficial effect on the restorative value of sleep. Having enough zinc in your body can help you get more out of your sleep by helping you have less night wakings and less morning fog.
What foods are rich in zinc?
Zinc is found in many foods. Seafood such as oysters, crab and lobster contain the highest levels of zinc, but it can also be found in poultry, meat, nuts and beans. Zinc is found in very low levels in vegetables and greens such as
What supplements can be taken?
Vegetarians, pregnant and breast-feeding women and those with chronic diseases are all at risk for zinc deficiency. Supplements are available in various forms: zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate. Each form has varying levels of zinc - refer to the packaging for details.
What precautions need to be followed?
Excessive use zinc supplements and products can lead to zinc toxicity, resulting in nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. Long-term zinc toxicity causes copper deficiency and neurological disease.
As always, a balance is needed so talk to your health care provider and listen carefully to your body.