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Immune Booster Series #2: Zinc & the Immune System

Immune Booster Series #2: Zinc & the Immune System

Zinc: What’s the big deal?

Zinc is a vital nutrient to consider for boosting the immune system. Zinc benefits helps in:

1. Bone Formation

2. Skin Integrity

3. Immunity

4. Gut health

5. Approximately 300 other processes in the body

Incredible, right?

Gut health is extremely important when talking about immune health considering 70-80% of our immune system is located right under the gut lining!

Over the last forty years, Zinc has been studied extensively. These studies are finding the important role of zinc and its ability to repair the gut lining. They have also discovered zinc deficiency is caused by a “leak” or a break in the integrity of the gut, that leads to a decrease in immune function and an increase in food sensitivity.

A LEAKY GUT = DECREASED IMMUNE FUNCTION + INCREASED FOOD SENSITIVITIES

Other studies have found that adequate zinc levels or safe prophylactic supplementation of zinc can reduce the length of infections, especially respiratory illness.

Interesting enough, a zinc deficiency can lead to vitamin A deficiency (also important for immune health) because of zinc’s job of transporting vitamin A in the blood. Nutritious plant-based sources of zinc include:
  • Cashews

  • Dark Chocolate

  • Hemp Seeds

  • Chia Seeds

Zinc absorption increases with protein intake and citrus foods such as lemons, oranges and grapefruit. Zinc is depleted when one consumes highly processed foods, corn, rice, teas and cereals (unless fortified).

As always, before starting any supplements, especially if you have an underlying condition, talk to your primary care doctor to ensure proper supplementation guidelines.

In general, zinc supplementation should not exceed 40 mg/day. With supplementation, make sure to consume it with food because nausea is a common reported side effect when taken on an empty stomach. To maximize zinc absorption, ensure that you are not supplementing iron or calcium at the same time because these nutrients compete with one another to get absorbed.

Resources:

Gut-Brain Connection by Court Vreeland Powerpoint slides

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4231515/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277319/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25362008

Julia Roller

Hello! I am a current student studying chiropractic care at National University of Health Sciences. I graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Dietetics. I had the privilege to swim for the university, which further inspired me to continue my education toward manual therapy. The majority of my education has been focused on how to treat chronic disease or chronic problems. I started to get frustrated with the fact that so many people struggle with chronic back problems and chronic health problems. This inspired me to further my education with acupuncture and a functional medicine program, which I am currently enrolled in. The health world can be hard to navigate with many opinions or biased research on the Internet. My goal is to empower individuals with evidence-based research so that we all can start preventing and healing disease and chronic pain.