We had great feedback from my Nutrition & Immunity webinar that I co-presented with Leah McGrath. Many questions came through, and feedback from evaluations have propted us to write some blog posts on various nutrition & immunity topics to give you a better picture as to how it works.
Zinc is our first topic on the list! Be sure you understand the basics first by watching the webinar, or reading my other articles (linked at the bottom).
WHAT ZINC IS & WHAT IT DOES FOR YOUR BODY?
Zinc is a micronutrient that is essential for human metabolism. When we eat foods that contain zinc, it is digested, absorbed, and transported to multiple different organs by our blood.
Our bodies contain about 2g of zinc, found in cells throughout the body.
Here is a list of what zinc does for our bodies and why it is important:
- Immune Function: Adequate amounts of zinc allow for our immune system to function correctly, fighting off infections and viruses. Zinc works to activate our T-cells (the cells that make our immune system) to protect us against pathogens.
- Gene Expression/Growth & Development: Zinc helps with gene expression and making of cells, which is necessary for growth. Zinc has been studied and shown to improve motor and cognitive development, height & weight during growing periods such as adolescents.
- Wound Healing: Zinc helps to heal our skin by improving our skin integrity and promoting faster healing of wounds.
HOW MUCH ZINC DO I NEED?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc depends on your age, sex, and lifestyle (pregnancy or lactating). Check out the table below to see how much Zinc you need!
FYI – RDA is the recommended daily amount, and UL is the upper limit, intake above which is not recommended.
|19+ (female)||8 mg/day||40 mg/day|
|19+ (male)||11 mg/day||40 mg/day|
|pregnancy (19+)||11mg/day||40 mg/day|
|lactating (19+)||12 mg/day||40 mg/day|
WHAT FOODS PROVIDE ZINC?
As you know from all of my articles and lectures, it’s best to focus on getting your nutrients from food! Zinc can come from a variety of nutritious sources. Here is a handy list!
Zinc supplements are also available. Although we want to obtain our nutrients with food, sometimes supplements are necessary. There are numerous types of zinc supplementations and you should speak with your medical team if you are considering taking a supplement.
TOO MUCH VS. TOO LITTLE
Zinc deficiency can cause:
- decreased immunity
- decreased growth & development
- slow wound healing
- skin rashes
- Increased inflammation
Zinc Toxicity can cause:
- loss of appetite
- nausea & vomiting
- upset stomach
Note that it is unlikely that you would ever consume too much zinc from food sources. Our bodies have ways to manage that. If someone has a zinc toxicity, it’s typically because they are taking supplements and unaware as to how much they are taking.
If you choose to take supplements, be sure your medical team and pharmacist is guiding you and knows all of what you are taking to avoid toxicity or unwanted interactions between supplements and medications.
ZINC AND SICKNESS
It is a common misconception that zinc lozenges/syrup will treat a common cold. Just reading the packages on cold and flu section of the pharmacy will make you think it does!
In research studies, it was found that consuming them within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms only reduced the cold duration by 1 day. If you choose to take them, be sure you don’t take too much.
Recent Research on COVID-19 & Zinc
In a recent study completed by The Journal of the American Medicine Association, no significant results were found with high zinc supplementation in COVID patients. Check out the article here!
For more information on immunity and nutrition, check out my webinar and other articles!
- [WEBINAR] Nutrition and Immunity
- The Truth About Immunity Supporting Foods
- What Foods Should You Eat to Improve Immunity? Immune Supporting Foods!
- What Kinds of Foods Distract the Immune System?
- Support Cancer Services by purchasing my Nutrition & Immunity printable, updated 2021!
- Zinc- National Institutes of Health
- Harvard School of Public Health-Zinc
- Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism Textbook