13 Jan Why is Zinc so important for your immune system?
If the natural levels of Zinc in your body fall, it can pose a threat to your health and impact your immune system, reducing your ability to fight everyday viruses such as colds and flu.
But what is Zinc, and why is it so key in supporting and maintaining a healthy immune system?
Zinc is an important trace element that is found naturally in tiny amounts in foods such as meat, shellfish and green vegetables like broccoli. By ensuring that you have healthy levels of zinc in your diet, you can help your body to fight off germs this winter, and if you need an extra boost for your immune system, or if your diet means that you struggle to get enough Zinc through what you eat, it is well worth considering using a herbal cold remedy with your recommended daily dose of Zinc.
Zinc becomes even more beneficial as we age. Our immunity can begin to decline as we get older, making us more susceptible to illnesses all year round, but particularly in the cold, damp days at the end of winter.
An efficient immune system is like having your own little army defending you against germs and bacteria: it naturally ‘recognises’ infectious agents and deals with them accordingly to keep us well. But, as the system weakens with time, our adaptive immunity can wain, and the white blood T cells – small lymphocyte cells in the lymphatic system – can become less effective at fighting off infection. The result: you are likely to catch more colds that leave you feeling drained and groggy!
Of the many benefits that Zinc offers is that it can help boost the production of these bug-busting T cells. This improves your chances of fighting off viral infections like colds and flu and can also help to reduce the likelihood of minor infections developing into acute lower-respiratory tract infections.
Already suffering from a cold? Up your Zinc immediately, as there is also evidence to suggest that a healthy Zinc level will help to speed up the duration of the virus.
A scientific review found that taking a Zinc supplement within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms can reduce the duration by a day. It also showed that people who continue to take Zinc are less likely to develop symptoms a week after first starting a cold was reduced.
How much Zinc do I need?
If you eat a healthy diet, you should be able to achieve the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Zinc that your body needs to stay healthy.
As a guideline though, the amount of zinc you need per day is approximately:
- 9.5mg a day for men (aged 19 to 64 years)
- 7mg a day for women
However, at times where you are exposed to cold viruses – in the workplace, on a flight – or if you live or work with small children, for example, boosting your Zinc levels can help give you a better chance of fighting off infection.
How can I increase my Zinc intake?
By changing your diet you can help bolster your immune system by increasing the level of zinc found in your system. Some of the best zinc-rich foods include
Red Meat – is an excellent source of zinc, a single 100-gram serving of raw ground beef provides the average man with nearly half of their daily recommended zinc intake.
Shellfish – oysters, crab, mussels and shrimp can all contribute to your daily Zinc needs.
Legumes (like lentils, pulses and beans) – these all contain high amounts of zinc, but some will benefit further from heating or soaking to increase the bioavailability of the mineral.
Seeds – Hemp, pumpkin, squash and sesame seeds all contain high amounts of Zinc, as well as being a good source of fibre.
Nuts – pine nuts, peanuts, cashews and almonds can all help to boost your intake of Zinc.
Dairy Products – cheese, milk and eggs offer good levels of zinc that can help towards your RDA. What’s more, dairy products are readily available and easy to cook, meaning you can give your Zinc levels a boost with virtually every meal.
Zinc and the immune system
To keep your immune system fighting fit this winter, invest in a good zinc supplement to keep you feeling well all season long. HRI Coldcare is the only licensed product in the UK that combines Echinacea with recommended daily doses of Vitamin C and Zinc in just two tablets per day.
If you are interested in finding out news and information about a natural approach to supporting your health, beauty and wellbeing, why not follow HRI Herbal on Facebook @HRIHerbal
You can now buy HRI Coldcare directly from our online shop, or on the high street from Holland & Barrett, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Superdrug and Morrisons.