Boost your winter immunity with Zinc and Vitamin C
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defence against many of the common colds, illnesses, infections and viruses that could otherwise damage your health. Looking after your immune system as much as you can will help to boost your resistance and aid in maintaining a healthy body. While it’s important to look after health and wellbeing all year round, winter can be an especially challenging time due to the chilly weather, which can increase your vulnerability to colds and other illnesses. Boosting your intake of essential vitamins and minerals such as zinc and vitamin C can really help to give your immune system that much-needed lift during the winter season.
Zinc and vitamin C: What are the benefits to my body?
Zinc and vitamin C both play a role in boosting the immune system. As an essential mineral, zinc is required for many processes within the body including protein synthesis, healthy cell division and the catalysing of enzymes for alcohol and amino acid metabolism, among other things. Zinc has a big impact on our immune systems as it plays a vital part in the development and function of T-cells, a type of white blood cell which helps the body fight off infections by recognising and dealing with viruses trying to invade the body. Low levels of zinc can also lead to a decrease in the activity of thymulin, a hormone which is also essential for the function of T-cells in the immune system. Many immune-boosting activities in the body are enhanced by vitamin C. White blood cells need high doses of the vitamin in order to function properly and fight off pathogens and viruses in your body. Phagocytic leukocytes are a particular type of white blood cell that require vitamin C to perform effectively. These leukocytes shoulder much of the responsibility for detecting, engulfing and digesting harmful bacteria or abnormal cells in the body. When it comes to the common cold, studies have shown that zinc can help to limit replication of the cold-causing virus. Both zinc and vitamin C have also been shown to have an effect on reducing the duration of cold symptoms in people. As well as these immune system boosts, zinc and vitamin C also promote a range of other health benefits, such as strong bones and cartilage, healthy skin, hair and nails.
How much do I need?
Zinc and vitamin C are both essential for many functions in the body, and they’re a vital part of a healthy and nutritious diet. For adult men aged 19 years and older, the recommended daily intake level for zinc is 11mg and for vitamin C, 90mg. For females in the same age group, the recommended daily intake is 8mg for zinc and 75mg of vitamin C.
What foods contain zinc and vitamin C?
Vitamin C and zinc are both found in a range of dietary sources, although the body’s ability to absorb them effectively can vary depending on a number of factors. Fruit and vegetables contain the most amounts of vitamin C. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, strawberries and brussels sprouts are some of the most common ways most humans get vitamin C into their bodies. Compared to vitamin C, zinc is found in a relatively wider variety of foods. You might be surprised to hear that oysters contain more zinc per individual serving than any other type of food, and other types of seafood such as crab and lobster are also good sources too. Zinc is also found in red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy products, although recent studies have shown soil depletion has had an impact on the mineral content of all grown foods. (read more here). Supplements are also a great way to boost your intake of zinc and/or vitamin C, as they are often designed to be absorbed more efficiently into the body.