What's With Zinc?

Zinc is in every cell in our body and is a component in over 200 enzymatic reactions. It's necessary for immunity, insulin, growth hormones, and sex hormones. It is primarily stored in the muscles and is highly concentrated in red and white blood cells.

Currently, Zinc is a hot topic because of its activity with the immune system and COVID-19.

Zinc is involved in almost every aspect of immunity. When we are low in zinc our T cells decrease, thymic hormone levels lower, and many white blood cell functions which are critical to immune response cease. Even modest zinc deficiency can impair macrophages, neutrophils, and natural killer T cells, which are a part of our immune system.

Zinc deficiency may increase susceptibility to infections, poor wound healing, decreased sense of taste or smell, along with skin disorders (acne, eczema and psoriasis). A significant amount of COVID patients are deficient in zinc and have shown to have worse outcomes.

Zinc , like Vitamin C, possesses direct antiviral activity and may reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms , viral binding, and replication.

So, how do you get enough zinc? Well, there are a couple ways. One is through the foods you eat, and another is through supplementing.

First, you need to know what your Recommend Daily Allowance is: Children 1-10 years 10mg, Males 15mg, Females 12, Pregnant females 15mg and Lactating females 19mg. However, these are just recommended and not necessary optimal. Optimal intake should be between 20-40mg, especially for vegetarians.

It's also important to understand that with any of our minerals, they all work together. Zinc, copper, and iron, all work together, and continued supplementation (chronic intake of 20-80 mg/day) of zinc can cause copper depletion. Some people with digestive disorders may have absorption issues and will need to add extra zinc through the use of supplementation. For the rest of us, we can get enough from our multivitamins and diet.

Foods high in Zinc per 3 1/2 oz:

  • Oysters 148.7mg

  • Pumpkin seeds 7.5 mg

  • Ginger root 6.8 mg

  • Oats 3.2 mg

  • Spinach 1 cup 1.4 mg

  • Asparagus 1 cup 1.1 mg

  • Sesame seeds 1/4 cup 2.8 mg

  • Lentils 1 cup 2.5 mg

  • Cashews 1/4 cup 2.3 mg

  • Quinoa 3/4 cup 2.0 mg

If you eat these foods, along with taking a quality multivitamin, you should be getting your RDA of Zinc. Remember, however, getting optimal amounts (20-40mg) from food gives you the best protection.

Our bodies prefer to get our vitamins and minerals from our food, so it's best to work with your nutrition first, and then if you find that you're getting sick or are actively sick, you can safely supplement for a short period of time.

The goal should always be to keep your immune system healthy by using foods and herbs. Supplementing is just that. It should be in addition to your already healthy diet.