When I was a kid, I was not brought up on supplements. My journey really began in my mid-twenties as a registered nurse after my first son was born and I had been challenged about vaccines and how there was another side to the story. I am not here to talk about vaccines today, but it was this journey that led me to preventative medicine and to eventually look into how to boost the immune system, rather than just try to cope with whatever came my way when I was run down and stressed, like ‘Codral Cold’ tablets or ‘Nurofen’.
Once upon a time, when I was stressed, it was not uncommon for me to develop laryngitis, followed by a sore throat and then eventually a chest cold. This happened at least 2 -3 times a year and I thought it was normal because lots of other people suffered from the flu and colds too, especially in winter. But once I learnt a few key simple things that could be done, my children (now all adults), rarely got a cold or missed a day of school. I couldn’t remember the last time my husband had a cold and for myself I suffer a viral illness about 1-2 times in a decade. Yup, that’s right, that wasn’t a blooper.
So, what’s the secret? …..
It’s actually so simple it’s ridiculous. Whilst I love food as medicine, and now have a generous veggie garden, ferment my own kombucha, and predominantly eat a vegan diet, I do believe in a few key vitamins and minerals as a regular go to, even if not religiously to prevent colds and other viral illnesses.
Zinc, Vitamin C and Salt!
So, let’s talk about the first one of these three because there are some specific tips around these that will ensure you’re not wasting your money.
ZINC – What it is Good For, The Best Type, The Safe and Effective Doses and How do I get it easily?
Zinc is found at a cellular level everywhere in the body. It has hundreds of functions so we will only discuss a few because this is a blog article, not a thesis. Zinc helps the cells to grow and divide, and is necessary for the activity of enzymes, proteins and DNA. The body does not manufacture its own zinc so it must be ingested with food. But then it needs to be absorbed well. When, we are stressed absorption may be inhibited and the body’s demand for zinc when stressed is also increase. This is a good reason why I believe in supplementing with zinc, especially when run down, aiming to become pregnant or when trying to boost the immune system is encouraged. Zinc is mostly stored in bone and muscle. Hence meat eaters will get some zinc this way.
Zinc is useful in any situation where inflammation is a problem including period pain, endometriosis and other female hormonal problems. Zinc regulates the menstrual cycle by promoting ovulation and nourishing healthy ovarian follicles and sperm.
Lung conditions like asthma, pneumonia, viral illness (Including COVID-19), and smokers cough will benefit from regular additional Zinc.
Zinc is known to modulate antiviral and antibacterial immunity and regulate inflammatory response.
Supports thyroid health.
The thyroid is a little tiny but gutsy organ that is part of the endocrine system that sits on your trachea. Here are a few things the thyroid is involved with:
- Metabolism and Weight management
- Regulates Body Temperature
- Aids in Fertility
- Supports Brain and Nervous Systems
- Aids Digestion.
There are three things that promote Thyroid health and the activation of thyroid hormone. These 3 amigo’s, Zinc, Selenium and Iodine.
Helps nails, skin and hair:
Zinc works for skin by blocking androgens and kills off bacteria that can lead to acne. Without even one external skin product, improvements can be made with the internal treatment of the gut and taking Zinc. Zinc keeps skin pores open by reducing keratin production. And Zinc reduces inflammation.
It is also beneficial in preventing scar tissue and stretch marks. A fun fact is that of all the places where zinc is stored in the body, the skin holds the third highest amount.
Zinc assists the management of stress by down-regulating cortisol. This can mean that if you are stressed at night, taking it before bed, might assist you to sleep better.
Food Sources of Zinc:
The best way to get Zinc from a dietary perspective is through wheatgerm, nuts, poppy seeds, pepitas, oysters, and Legumes. If you eat meat, red meat has the highest forms, especially liver.
*A small tip to be aware of is that legumes, nuts and grains can block zinc if they are not soaked first due to the phytate content. So, sprouting and soaking will increase the bioavailability of zinc.
The test for zinc deficiency is plasma zinc with a normal reference range of 11-23 umol/L or 70-150 ug/dL).
The absorption of Zinc can be impaired by low stomach juices, alcohol, levels of copper that are too high, hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) and birth control pills.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency include:
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Dermatitis & eczema
- Impaired immune function & regular viral illnesses.
- White spots on the fingernails.
Dosage and Safety:
A safe and effective dose of zinc is around 25mg – 50 mg per day. Zinc is best taken in the evening and may assist you to sleep, but after food as it may make you feel nauseated if you take it on an empty stomach. If taking more than 50mg, it is beneficial to take it in divided doses. If taking larger amounts due to illness, it is best not exceed 80 mg as it can deplete copper. (Copper and Zinc like to compete in the boxing ring).
*Please see the Shop to be able to order it online today where I have selected online brands I trust.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25050823/ (Zinc Ionophores with Quercetin)
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32319538/ (Zinc and the respiratory tract)
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33487035/ (Zinc and COVID-19)
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33416095/- (An Integrative look at SARS-Cov2)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277319/ (Immune cells and Zinc)
https://drruscio.com/what-does-the-thyroid-do/ (How the thyroid works)
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25758370/ – (Zinc and Selenium & the thyroid)
Metabolism and Weight Management:
https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/ielapa.731402576347339- (Zinc and obesity).
https://dmsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13098-019-0497-8 – (Zinc and weight management)
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1702662/ – (Zinc and cortisol response)
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02789143 (Zinc inhibits cortisol)
Foods High in Zinc: