Zinc is an essential component in over 200 enzymatic reactions and is present in every cell of our body. It plays a vital role in immunity, insulin, growth hormones, and sex hormones. Our muscles store it, and it is highly concentrated in red and white blood cells.
Currently, Zinc is a popular topic due to its role in the immune system and COVID-19. Zinc is involved in almost every aspect of immunity, and its deficiency can impair macrophages, neutrophils, and natural killer T cells, which are crucial to immune response. Zinc deficiency may also increase susceptibility to infections, poor wound healing, decreased sense of taste or smell, and skin disorders like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. A significant number of COVID-19 patients have shown to be deficient in zinc and have worse outcomes.
Zinc possesses direct antiviral activity like Vitamin C and may reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms, viral binding, and replication. To ensure optimal intake, you should know the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc, which varies for different age and gender groups. However, optimal intake should be between 20-40mg, especially for vegetarians.
Zinc works together with other minerals like copper and iron and continued supplementation of zinc can cause copper depletion. Some people with digestive disorders may have absorption issues and need extra zinc through supplementation. However, for others, a quality multivitamin and diet should suffice.
Foods high in Zinc per 3 1/2 oz:
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
Consuming these foods, along with a quality multivitamin, can provide the RDA of Zinc.
However, getting optimal amounts from food is always the best protection.
By adopting a well-balanced and nourishing diet, we can provide our bodies with the diverse array of nutrients they need to thrive. Whole foods offer a synergy of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other essential compounds that contribute to overall health and well-being. However, if circumstances warrant supplementation, it should be approached with care and guidance from healthcare professionals.