There is a great link between being chilled for a while and getting sick. However, when the cold makes someone sick, it is usually caused by having being exposed to germs or having contacts with Rhinoviruses. While zinc-coated roofs prevent cold by rainfall, it is easy to lose sight of zinc supplements which strengthen its immune defences, thereby warding cold-causing rhinoviruses.
Zinc, which is a trace element, is one of them: Your body needs a specific amount of zinc every day, as excess can be just as harmful as a deficiency. Your body has no way to store it, so it must receive it daily through your diet. Zinc is important for many vital functions:
- It strengthens the immune system
- It is an important component of enzymes involved in tissue remodelling and cancer prevention
- It preserves morale, mental clarity and promotes restful sleep
- It contributes to the health of the prostate and intestines
- It supports the senses of taste and smell
- Zinc is a component of at least 3,000 different proteins present in your body, and more than 200 types of enzymes.
- It increases your white blood cell production and helps them fight infections more effectively. It also increases the production of cancer-fighting killer cells, helps your immune system release more antibodies, and promotes wound healing.
How to know you lack zinc: When to employ zinc supplements
Mild zinc deficiency is relatively common, especially in babies and children, pregnant or lactating women, the elderly, people with gastrointestinal malabsorption or intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease, as well as vegetarians and vegans. Many factors contribute to the overall problem of zinc deficiency:
- Years of commercial farming practices, such as monoculture (which involves the same cultivation over large areas, several years in a row), have depleted our lands of their natural minerals, such as zinc.
- Some diets, such as vegetarian, vegan, and cereal-rich diets, are low in bio-available zinc and rich in phytic acid, which further affects zinc absorption.
- Mild zinc deficiency can make you more vulnerable to colds and flu, which lead to chronic fatigue and poor health in general. In children, while growth and development depend mainly on proper nutrition, insufficient zinc intake can lead to poor mood, memory, learning and academic performance.
- Zinc deficiency can also contribute to acne development and poor eyesight. Chronic zinc deficiency can affect vision, taste, smell and memory. White marks on the nails may indicate that you are running out of zinc.
Zinc is an essential trace element for the immune system
When your body lacks zinc, it is more vulnerable to different infectious agents. Your white blood cells simply cannot function without zinc. It affects different aspects of your immune system, including antibodies, and even the regulation of genes in lymphocytes.
Zinc is involved in many basic cellular functions, including DNA replication, RNA transcription, cell division and activation, and cell membrane stabilization.
Zinc is the characteristic molecule of thymic proteins, which are defence substances made by the thymus. Without zinc, you lack these immune defences. Zinc salts are deadly for many pathogens. Viral gastroenteritis is slowed by zinc ingestion, thanks to the direct antimicrobial action of zinc ions in the gastrointestinal tract.
How to optimize your zinc levels
As always, the ideal point is to optimize your diet by promoting whole foods, in order to consume enough zinc to cover your needs. Animal products are by far the richest in zinc.
Food and medication can interfere with zinc absorption, so the time you take your supplement is important. Caffeine, for example, can reduce zinc absorption by 50%, so you should avoid swallowing your supplement with a cup of coffee.
On the other hand, cysteine and methionine, which are amino acids, improve zinc absorption, which means that zinc supplements combined with a good quality whey protein forms an ‘explosive’ duo to boost your immune system.
In conclusion, zinc is an essential and often forgotten element, from a nutritional point of view, to add to your anti-flu inventory. In addition to making sure you have enough zinc, remember that your vitamin D levels are also very important to stay in shape this winter. Click here to get vitamin D supplements from “Body by nature supplements”