- Dietary Supplements
- Health Conditions
- Healthy Nutrition
- Cardiovascular Health
- Skin Care
- Natural Remedies
Natural Food Sources of Zinc for Immune System Health
- Zinc is an essential mineral
- The best way to ingest zinc is through regular dietary sources, although a vitamin and mineral tablet can be a good “insurance policy” so that you can be reassured that your body is receiving the correct level of nutrients.
Zinc is an essential mineral, and the ingestion of zinc and zinc stored in your body is crucial for the proper and healthy functioning of various natural processes and senses, including taste and smell. Zinc is needed for growth and development throughout our lives, and even plays a role in fetal development during pregnancy. Our immune systems also relies on zinc for healthy and effective functioning.
Zinc is very important for reproductive functions, particularly in men: regular ingestion of zinc has a positive effect on prostate gland health and it has also been shown to improve levels of testosterone in the blood. A sufficient intake of zinc can also improve the quality of sperm, and increase sperm count. If you are planning to start or add to your family, supplementation with zinc is well worth considering.
As well helping with healthy immune function, zinc can also help to fight infections, in particular flu and the cold virus. Zinc can also assist with healing and recovery. It can help you to recover from a sore throat or from a variety of injuries from more serious wounds and burns through to less serious cuts and grazes. As well as being an important nutrient in its own right, zinc also helps the body to absorb other important nutrients, such as vitamin A which is critical for your sight, cellular growth and the growth of your bones. Zinc also helps to release vitamin A which is stored in your liver. Some studies have also shown that zinc can improve your athletic performance, especially of you are deficient in the mineral.
You can become deficient in Zinc if you do not eat enough food containing it, or if your body does not absorb enough of the zinc that you have ingested. You might also excrete too much zinc, or your body may have an increased requirement for the mineral unmatched by an increased intake or absorption. If you are deficient in zinc, you may experience slowed growth, diarrhea, loss of hair, impotence, skin or eye conditions, or loss of appetite. You may also experience a reduction in body weight, tiredness, or you may find that cuts or grazes you might have heal more slowly. If you think you might have a zinc deficiency, make an appointment to see your doctor. He will be able to assess your zinc levels, and can advise you on how best to address any deficiency.
The best way to ingest zinc is through regular dietary sources, although a vitamin and mineral tablet can be a good “insurance policy” so that you can be reassured that your body is receiving the correct level of nutrients.
The most potent sources of zinc include oysters and meat (including liver). 6 oysters will provide you with a whopping 43 mg of zinc (approximately). The daily recommended intake of zinc is between 5.5mg and 9.5mg for men and between 4 and 7mg for women. A medium portion of beef of 85g (about the size of a deck of cards) will provide you with about 5.8mg of zinc. Other good sources include pork (2.2mg per 85g portion), chicken (similar to zinc content in pork, especially the dark meat), cheese, wheat germ, seeds and nuts (especially pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts and almonds). Also, whole grains, beans (including baked beans), chickpeas and milk contain good amounts of zinc.
Meat is a very important source of zinc. Although there are numerous good vegetarian sources of zinc, a vegetarian diet can cause a zinc deficiency. This can be due to phytates which are found mainly in grains. They react with zinc to make it impossible for the body to absorb it. It is therefore very important that anyone on, or thinking about starting a vegetarian diet, should consider a zinc supplement, and ensure that there are sufficient sources of zinc in their diet.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Immune System Health16 Dec 2008|