The Benefits of Zinc for Immune Health

| September 5, 2023

As a trace mineral, you only require small amounts of zinc on a daily basis. Despite this, it plays a vital role in the various functions of the body’s immune system. For instance, over 300 enzymes require the assistance of zinc to properly carry out key chemical reactions. One thing to note, your body does not naturally produce or store zinc and due to this, you are advised to obtain your recommended daily intake of zinc through your diet or even supplements. In this article, we’ll explore the ramifications of having a zinc deficiency and how zinc can boost your immunity.

Zinc Deficiency

Clinical zinc deficiency is often the result of a genetic defect or an extremely restricted diet. Higher nutritional requirements – for example during pregnancy, can also put one at risk of this deficiency. Health physicians commonly diagnose zinc deficiency when one shows severe symptoms such as dry and rough skin, or even hair loss. However, low zinc levels may also lead to other immune dysfunctions like stunted growth amongst infants and children, slowed healing of wounds, and a greater vulnerability to infections. Hence, it shows how zinc is at the centre of the body’s immune system, and a severe lack of this mineral can eventually lead to serious health complications.

Immune System Boost

For your body to function at its best, your immune system requires adequate levels of zinc. Primarily, this mineral boosts your immunity by assisting skin cells and cells that line your organs. Zinc strengthens these cells to better protect your organs and bloodstream from harmful pathogens. Additionally, the thymus and bone marrow which are responsible for producing immune cells are kept working effectively with the help of zinc. This in turn helps key white blood cells eliminate pathogens in the bloodstream. Zinc also works to launch pathogen-specific attacks with the help of antibodies using memories of prior threats to the body. The combination of these functions ultimately ensures your body’s defences are more resistant to infections. Studies have shown that the benefits of zinc supplements include a reduced duration of the common cold by up to 33% when consumed daily and consistently. The effects of other respiratory infections have also shown to be limited with the adequate consumption of zinc.

A Powerful Antioxidant

Acting as an antioxidant, the consistent consumption of zinc can also lead to reduced oxidative stress levels. Oxidative stress is a metabolic dysfunction that leads to oxidative damage of cells and tissues. An excess of this may lead to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, and in even rarer cases, cancer. Thus, to bring down levels of oxidative stress, you can take zinc supplements as it halts anti-inflammatory responses and assists in the synthesis of antioxidant enzymes. This can then reduce the risk of cancer while some studies also suggest that due to decreased oxidative stress levels, it can even result in a longer lifespan.

Overall, the power of zinc can be summed up as an immune system boost that protects your body against infections. Being an antioxidant, zinc can also reduce oxidative stress levels to lower one’s risk of contracting chronic illnesses. To seamlessly incorporate this mineral into your lifestyle, consider eating foods that are rich in zinc such as nuts, beans, and red meat. Zinc supplements also offer a convenient way of meeting your daily zinc nutritional needs, especially in cases of zinc deficiency. Obtaining the daily recommended intake of this essential nutrient through a combination of a balanced diet and supplements, will help you to feel more empowered and confident in taking on the hassle of your everyday life with a healthy body and mind.

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