During this period, the need for boosting our immune system has become an obligation to prevent a cold, flu, or other infections.
The central role of the immune system is to protect the body from any type of pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and toxins.
So how could we boost our immune system? The reasons are mainly caused by our poor diet, which is not enough to fulfill our nutritional needs and can cause deficiencies and lead to many conditions related to poor health. So in order to improve our immune system, all we need is a healthy and well-balanced diet. Consuming good quality fresh food can provide the nutrients that our body needs. As a result, our immune system would be much stronger and can protect our bodies from any pathogens.
Zinc is shown to be one of the nutrients that can boost your immune system and has proven to be a vital mineral to fight infections.
Zinc is an essential mineral required for numerous processes in our body. This mineral acts as a co-factor that can promote the proper function of over 300 enzymes. Enzymes are the substances that are involved in all reactions occurring in our body. Zinc is considered a fuel for the enzymes, thus, it’s crucial to supply them with an adequate amount of zinc. Also, DNA synthesis and protein production rely on zinc, which explains why it’s vital for fetus development.
Zinc plays a role in modulating moods and learning, as well as vision, taste, and smell. It is involved in thyroid hormone functions, the process of blood clotting, and insulin metabolism. Zinc is indeed a vital mineral.
Our body needs a small amount of this mineral, but it’s still essential. Same as iron, zinc could not be stored or produced by the body. Hence, we can only supply our need for zinc by ingesting it daily.
Zinc and the immune system
Zinc plays an essential role in increasing immune cell function, reducing oxidative stress, and can highly reduce the risk of infection. Let’s not forget its antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory activity, and the possibility that it accelerates wound healing. So zinc can be helpful to prevent and treat any conditions caused by a diminished immune system. It may protect the respiratory tract from infections, and reduce the duration of common colds.
Zinc deficiency is well known among all microorganisms deficiencies. and many people suffer from it. It’s rare to have a severe deficiency. However, mild zinc deficiency is more common, especially among children, teenagers, women, and the elderly. Their daily intake is usually below the recommended dose due to their poor eating habits. This is especially true for pregnant women, as a cold, flu, or other infection can reduce the amount of zinc in the body, which can be dangerous for the fetus.
The symptoms of mild zinc deficiency are characterized by diarrhea, thinning hair, impaired wound healing, a decrease of the immune system, and fertility issues.
The absorption of zinc can be inhibited by certain factors, like phytates which are found in cereals. Oxalates, found in chocolate, spinach, beans, and beets, can also prevent zinc absorption. Inflammation or gut damage is the main cause of the malabsorption of zinc.
People who are more likely to have a deficiency include people who suffer from gastrointestinal disease, malnutrition, chronic liver disease, as well as people who are vegan.
Zinc daily intake:
Children between 1 to 3 years needs 3 mg, 4 to 8 years need 5 mg.
Teenager boys around 14 to 18 years need 11 mg of zinc daily, and teenager girls around these ages need 9 mg of zinc daily.
The recommended daily intake for an adult is 11 mg for men and 12 for women.
On the other hand pregnant and breastfeeding women are recommended to consume more, around 11 to 13 mg.
Note: the recommended daily intake of zinc should be easily reached just by your dietary intake which includes sources that are rich in zinc (unless you have a problem related to malabsorption). In the case of people who have a condition that inhibits zinc absorption, they might need supplementation.
Rich sources of zinc:
Zinc is naturally found in many foods, both animal and vegetable sources. However, animal sources contain the highest amount of zinc, including poultry and seafood.
Streamed Oyster : 100 g = 16 – 33 mg
Boiled crab: 100 g = 4 – 5 mg
Beef: 100 g = 7 – 11 mg
Beef liver: 100g = 6 – 7 mg
Roasted turkey : 100 g = 2 – 4 mg
Chicken: 100g = 2 – 3 mg
Sardines: 100 g = 1 – 2 mg
Dried seaweed: 3 – 4 mg
Nuts and seeds:
Unsalted pumpkin seeds: 100 g = 7 mg
Unsalted roasted cashews: 100 g = 5 mg