Zinc, Alcohol Intake, and Thyroid Function

October 1, 2012 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Zinc, Alcohol Intake, and Thyroid Function
In adults, zinc is associated with improved alcohol metabolism3 and zinc boosts the enzyme that clears alcohol (similar to pantethine supplementation). Zinc has been found to enhance antioxidant capability in the liver, as well as boost a main metal detoxifying compound called metallothionein (MT).

Collectively, all this information means that it is prudent to take zinc (25 to 50 mg) before any alcohol ingestion. Even moderate drinkers may want to take an extra 25 mg of zinc for this purpose on any given alcohol consumption day.

Additionally, it is also known that zinc is important as a cofactor for thyroid function. This means that if alcohol is inducing low zinc, that can cause low thyroid and weight gain. Zinc can also be depleted from stress, heavy sweating, or a diet that is lacking (no red meat).

Zinc is a key mineral that helps make thyroid releasing hormone4 (TRH) in your brain, which then signals your pituitary to make thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).  Low zinc is associated with low T36 (active thyroid hormone) and a reduced ability to convert T4 to T37 (similar to the need for selenium).

The take-home message is that if you struggle with low thyroid symptoms and consume any amount of alcohol you should take some extra zinc. Even if you don't consume alcohol you could still be lacking zinc, and may need some to get your metabolism into gear. For example, a lack of sex drive, for both men and women, would be one sign of a need for zinc.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Zinc Protects Against Alcohol Toxicity During Pregnancy  Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research  Brooke L. Summers, Allan M. Rofe, and Peter Coyle.
  2. ^ Zinc Protects Against Alcohol-Induced Intestinal Damage  Biosci Biotechnol Biochem.  Arda-Pirincci P, Bilgin-Sokmen B, Yanardag R, Bolkent S.
  3. ^ Zinc and Liver Damage  Mol Aspects Med.   Kang YJ, Zhou Z.
  4. ^ Zinc is Needed to Make TRH  Peptides.  Pekary AE, Lukaski HC, Mena I, Hershman JM.
  5. ^ Zinc, TRH, and Testosterone  Peptides.   Pekary AE, Lukaski HC, Mena I, Smith SM, Bhasin S, Hershman JM.
  6. ^ Lack of Zinc Impairs THR Production and T3 Activation  Am J Clin Nutr.   Morley JE, Gordon J, Hershman JM.
  7. ^ Zinc Boosts T3 and Free T4 Levels  Institute of Nutrition Physiology, Technical University Munich, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany.  Kralik A, Eder K, Kirchgessner M.

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