Zinc and your immune system; what the grocery store hoarders don’t know.
Hey it’s me, Sophia, resident nutrition expert and fertility specialist here at JWP. I’m taking a break from my normally scheduled fertility blogging to give you this special CoVID-19 specific announcement about Zinc!
As all my fertility patients know, I usually pack their diets with zinc-rich foods to support healthy reproductive function. However, zinc is also famous for keeping our immune systems strong! Without giving you all a biochemistry lesson (snoozefest, right?) I want to help you understand why Zinc is vital for protecting your bodies against viruses.
Simply put, your immune system uses zinc specifically when repairing damaged cells and growing new ones. When you are exposed to a new virus, your body must essentially grow a new “army” of attack cells specifically tailored to beating that virus to a pulp. No zinc, no new army. Make sense? Then let’s move on to the good part!
The RDA of Zinc is different for the different genders, ages, and stages of life; but honestly, I think the RDA is pretty stingy! For my patients, I recommend nobody have less than 12mg per day of this vital mineral. Now, before you go reaching for a supplement there are a few things I want you to know.
Zinc supplements can be amazing for CERTAIN people in SPECIFIC circumstances, but zinc at high levels can interfere with many medications and the absorption of other vital nutrients like iron, calcium, and magnesium.
If you’re someone who is anemic or taking prescription medication, then reaching for a zinc supplement could be bad news, and I advise you discuss with your medical provider first. First and foremost, I recommend eating zinc-rich foods. I mean, what kind of a dietitian would I be if I didn’t recommend food first?
Here are the best foods to get plenty of zinc, with the milligrams per serving listed right next to them:
Oysters – 36mg
Other shellfish like shrimp, clams, mussels,
scallops, lobster, and crab – 2-10mg
Organ meats (especially liver!) – 24mg
Sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds – 8mg
Cashews – 6mg
Leafy green veggies – 0.36 mg
Meat such as lamb, beef, pork, and poultry – 1.5-3.5mg
Other bonuses about these foods are that they’re likely among the few foods NOT out of stock at your local supermarket. I wish I could say the same about toilet paper.