What's A Picolinate?

from Vitality Unlimited
Your Santa Fe Connection for Healthy Living
Our December 1989 Newsletter

In order for minerals in food to be utilized within the cells of the body, they must first be extracted from food, carried through the intestinal membranes, transported in the blood stream, and finally carried through the cell membrane to the interior cellular mechanisms. There are several barriers to this process. The most difficult being the intestinal wall. The cells that line the intestinal wall present a negative charge on the membrane surface. Minerals that have been dissolved in the digestive fluid which have lost their neutrality and have become positively charged will be attracted to the membrane and held tightly. In this instance, the minerals will not be allowed to pass through, and will remain held to the wall until another secretion cleanses them away.

A process called chelation accomplishes this feat for some of the minerals, while for others the electrical charge attraction is not as strong. Chelators are organic molecules that have their electrical charges arranged in such a way as to attract the positively charged mineral and temporarily tuck the mineral into a larger complex.

Thus, with the mineral ion's positive charge shielded by the large chelator molecule, the complex appears to be neutral or negatively charged and will not be held by the membrane as it passes through.

Picolinic acid is the body's prime natural chelator. There is an important reason for the body to construct this molecule: it is the most efficient chelator for minerals such as chromium, zinc, manganese, copper, iron, and perhaps molybdenum. A group of researchers led by Dr. Gary W. Evans at the USDA Human Nutrition Laboratory in Grand Forks, N.D., has been investigating Picolinic acid. Dr. Evans has found that Picolinic acid is produced from the amino acid tryptoph an in the liver and kidneys, and is transported to the pancreas. During digestion. Picolinic acid is secreted from the pancreas into the intestine. Dr. Evans has also determined that human milk contains fairly large amounts of Picolinic acid, whereas cow milk has little.

Dr. Evans' group found that there is about 30 times as much Picolinic acid in mother's milk as in cow's milk, and about 300 times as much in mother's milk as in the infant formulas that they analyzed. Even though there is twice as much zinc in cow's milk than in mother's milk, much more zinc is absorbed from mother's milk.

Mineral uptake by tissues is far greater when the mineral is a Picolinate, rather than the other forms. Since our bodies utilize Picolinic acid to absorb and transport certain minerals, and our cells recognize mineral picolinates and readily use them, it makes sense to design mineral supplements based on this knowledge.

There is evidence that zinc may be a component of other hormones in addition to insulin, and that it is involved in cell membrane health. Surgeons have recognized the importance of zinc in wound healing - and studies show that zinc reduces infections as well. But research nutritionists have been perplexed by zinc's behavior. Persons eating adequate amounts of zinc do not always absorb adequate amounts of zinc.

Dr. Evans' group demonstrated that adding Picolinic acid to standard diets increased the amount of zinc actually absorbed. Dr. Evans found that adding five milligrams of zinc Picolinate to the diet alleviated acrodermatitis enteropathica symptoms, whereas 60 milligrams per day of zinc sulfate did not.

The research has also shown that the preferred way to increase zinc absorption is not to add picolinic acid to the diet, but to take zinc picolinate supplements.

A group at Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine in Seattle, WA, compared zinc picolinate, zinc citrate and zinc gluconate absorption in students, and published their findings. The study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over clinical trial, and the results showed that red blood cell levels, blood serum levels, and hair levels of zinc all improved best with zinc picolinate (the next best was zinc gluconate).

Supplement users, in fact, note that since zinc picolinate is so well assimilated, the amount needed may be only one-third as much as normally taken for supplemental purposes.

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