As you age and your immune system becomes weaker, seemingly minor illnesses that you once brushed off can suddenly begin doing severe damage to your health. In some cases, they can even be deadly. Luckily, you can lessen the toll age takes on immunity with the help of a little zinc.
A Zinc A DAY Keeps The Doctor Away
If you want that immune system to function at its best, you need to get plenty of the trace mineral zinc in your daily diet. Not only does zinc help activate certain types of immune cells, but it also keeps your immune system in balance to prevent the out-of-control inflammation that can often accompany infection.
Zinc plays a crucial role in cell division and growth, meaning the metal is essential to your body’s ability to build proteins and maintain enzymes that help with all manner of healing processes. Because of its strong impact on the mechanisms which promote healing, zinc also contributes to supporting your immune system in a significant way.
Researchers have found that older adults are at an elevated risk of not getting enough of this essential nutrient in their diets. In a recent study of nursing home patients age 65 and older, doctors discovered that 30 percent had low zinc levels.
Sadly, those 30 percent of patients with too little zinc also had a significantly higher rate of serious infections, including fatal cases of pneumonia. And the researchers noted that this is not a problem faced only by seniors in nursing facilities, but seniors nationwide.
Doctors also pointed out that many of the zinc-deficient patients they examined in the nursing home study were able to reach sufficient levels of zinc intake in a short period of time with supplementation, and consequently improve their immunity against illness and infection.
What Are The Signs Of A Zinc Deficiency?
If you are wondering whether you may have a zinc deficiency in your daily diet, here are a few telltale signs:
- Reoccurring skin sores
- Hair loss
- Poor appetite
- Night blindness
- Difficulty with smell or taste
- Frequent infections
- Slow wound healing
- White spots in the fingernails
You may also be surprised to learn that if you suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease, there is also a good chance your zinc levels are low. These conditions inhibit your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat.
People who consume low protein or vegetable-based diets are also more likely to have lower than ideal zinc levels. If you’re still unsure of your levels, check with your doctor and have your blood levels tested. If that is not an option, give us a call and we can arrange for the blood test you need in most cases.
Increasing the level of zinc in your body can be achieved by making minor diet changes, taking a daily supplement, or a combination of the two.
But keep in mind, your body is not designed to store zinc for long periods, so whatever you opt to do to overcome a zinc deficiency, you need to make a daily habit.
Foods you can consume to get a healthy dose of zinc include:
- Shellfish such as crab, lobster, and oysters
- Lean grass-fed beef
- Grass-fed chicken
- Nuts such as cashews and almonds
- Kidney beans
- Grass-fed eggs
- Pumpkin seeds
Zinc Also Fights Cancer
As it turns out, this immune-boosting mineral does more than help you keep away a cold. It helps you keep away cancer.
Research shows that zinc deficiency is a common problem in people with esophageal cancer, as well as other types of cancer. As many as 65 percent of people with head and neck cancers (like esophageal cancer) are deficient in zinc, which means, in many cases, zinc could be the key to cancer prevention.
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington and several other institutions found that zinc stops the growth of esophageal cancer cells without interfering with the development of normal, healthy esophageal cells.
Esophageal cancer doesn’t get as much press as breast cancer, lung cancer, or prostate cancer, but it’s still the sixth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide.
Part of the reason zinc is so important for cancer prevention and overall health is because your body needs it to create certain proteins and enzymes. Without these proteins and enzymes, your cells can’t function, which means without zinc, your cells can’t function.
In the case of cancer, researchers found that zinc stops overactive calcium in cancer cells. Calcium production goes awry in cancer cells for some reason, but not in healthy cells. So by halting these cancer-causing calcium signals, zinc kills cancer cells.
At Doctor’s Nutrition, we are offer blood testing to determine if you are deficient in immune-boosting nutrients. Call Doctor’s Nutrition today at 1-800-824-0194 to find out more.
- Study says zinc can halt the growth of cancer cells — MedicalXpress. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Zinc — Prevention. Retrieved September 29, 2017.