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How can zinc deficiency affect liver detoxification?

Leopold D. Galland, MD
Internal Medicine
The liver performs two phases of detoxification: Phase One (oxidation) and Phase Two (conjugation). In Phase One, the liver uses oxygen and enzymes to burn toxins and make them water soluble.

Zinc plays an essential role in Phase One detoxification. A deficiency of zinc doesn't stop Phase One detoxification, but shifts the activity of Phase One enzymes in a direction that encourages the formation of cancer-promoting chemicals. In my clinical experience, zinc deficiency, as measured by low plasma zinc levels, is quite common in the United States. Few foods are really rich in zinc, so supplementation is often useful.

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