Zinc and the immune system:
The immune system is affected by even moderate degrees of zinc deficiency – and severe zinc deficiency actually depresses the immune function. Adequate amounts of zinc are required for the development and activation of T-lymphocytes, a white blood cell that helps fight infection. If running low on zinc, you may be more susceptible to colds, flus and other viruses.
What depletes zinc levels in the body?
Generally speaking, the usual culprits that are not so good for our general health and wellness drain our zinc stores as well. Drinks containing caffeine, a diet rich in processed foods, high alcohol intake all deplete zinc.
Some other factors that deplete zinc include the use of anti-acids and antibiotics, chronic diarrhoea. Sufferers of intestinal disorders such as malabsorption, Crohn’s disease or IBS are also at greater risk of a zinc deficiency.
Some of the following symptoms may indicate a zinc deficiency:
- Impaired immunity – frequent colds, coughs and upper respiratory infections, viruses…
- Slow healing of wounds or acne
- Dry skin
- Loss of taste
- Loss of smell
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Poor night vision
Make sure to include plenty of the following zinc-rich foods in your diet:
Seeds, nuts and cereal: pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, oats, bran, lentils, cashews, almonds, walnuts
Animal protein: oysters, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb
A zinc supplement may be of some assistance if you are depleted in zinc.
Consult your healthcare professional if you suspect any deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.