Thursday, November 21, 2013

Think Zinc: Why Your Body Needs It for Good Health

The body is a complex machine that needs lots of different nutrients to perform its daily functions. One of those nutrients is zinc. You may only think of it in relation to keeping you from getting sunburned, but it serves an even greater purpose than that.

Why should we be thinking about zinc? It is an important mineral in the body. Each day, the body performs thousands of reactions that can happen in the blink of an eye. From the foods we eat, the body filters out what it needs and directs it to the right places for use. What we don’t need is eliminated as waste. Each day the process begins again.

The Importance of Zinc

English: Zinc
Zinc supplements. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the body, zinc is responsible for helping with hundreds of reactions in a variety of cells. For one, it plays a very important role in immune function. Zinc is instrumental in stimulating the formation of T-lymphocytes or helper T-cells. These are the white blood cells that rush to the sight of an invading infection to stop the onslaught on the body. It plays a role in wound healing as well.

Zinc stimulates enzyme activity. Enzymes are catalysts for hundreds of reactions, from secreting hormones from glands to stimulating the creation of reproductive cells.

It supports normal growth and development throughout your life. In the womb, it helps to ensure that the neurological systems develop as they should during each trimester of pregnancy. After birth it still functions to support brain development.

Basically the body couldn’t do without zinc and yet, many people are deficient in this mineral. It may not be noticed at first, but over time it can show up in decreased immunity or greater susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. You often see people taking Echinacea and zinc as natural remedies to fight these conditions.

Foodstuff containing zinc
Foods containing zinc. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Foods that Contain Zinc

The best way to get zinc into your system is through your food. This is always a preferable choice to supplements as it is the natural form of the mineral, and is more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Check your diet. If you are not eating any of these foods, you could be zinc-deficient.

* Oysters
* Wheat germ
* Bran
* Cheese
* Beef
* Lamb
* Other dairy products
* Walnuts

The highest concentrations of zinc come from beef. Eating a few servings a week can boost your zinc levels. On a daily note, try adding nuts or cheese to your dishes. Wheat germ can be added to cereals and yogurt without changing the taste much. If that doesn’t do it, try fortified cereals that contain added zinc.

The average person over the age of fourteen needs eight to eleven milligrams a day. Children need between two and five milligrams depending on age, and pregnant women need eleven or more milligrams.

Zinc is an important mineral used in every cell in the body. Make sure you are getting enough to keep your body healthy and free of illness this winter.

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