Up your zinc for better immunity

This micronutrient is an important component in fighting illness and infection. Here’s how to get it into every meal Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system, thanks to its role in activating cells that fight viruses and bacteria. It can also help control dangerous inflammation in the body.1 We need zinc for wound healing and creating new cells, too.2,3

How much zinc do you need?

The recommended daily amount of zinc is 7mg for women and 9.5mg for men.4 There’s currently no reliable way of testing your zinc levels,5 but a deficiency is relatively rare in the West, where we tend to eat a varied and balanced diet. However, it has been found to be more common in old people – who may be eating less – while vegetarians and vegans can also be at risk, as one of the richest sources of zinc is meat and shellfish. The good news is plenty of plant sources are also rich in zinc: lentils contain around 1.3mg per 100g, and firm tofu contains 2mg per 170g.6

Handpicked content: Why you should start taking zinc – today

Your zinc-packed menu

Try the suggestions below to up your zinc intake.7 Remember that not all brands will contain the same levels of zinc.

Breakfast

Porridge made with 170g of oatmeal = 1mg of zinc

Mid-morning snack

28g of cashew nuts = 1.6mg

Lunch

Half a tin of baked beans = 2.9mg
Slice of wholegrain toast = 0.52mg

Mid-afternoon snack

Small pot of low-fat yoghurt = 0.8mg
1 tablespoon of flax seeds = 0.45mg

Dinner

Falafel burger made with 200g of chickpeas = 1.2mg
28g of whole milk mozzarella = 0.9mg
Large wholemeal pitta bread = 1mg

Total = 10.43mg of zinc

Avoid eating more than 25mg of zinc a day.

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
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Sources

1. Bonaventura B, et al. Zinc and its role in immunity and inflammation. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568997214002808
2. Lin P-H, et al. Zinc in Wound Healing Modulation. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793244/
3. NHS Choices. Others ¬– Vitamins and minerals. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/
4. Public Health England. Government Dietary Recommendations. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/618167/government_dietary_recommendations.pdf
5. Science Daily. Zinc deficiency linked to immune system response, particularly in older adults. Available from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150323142839.htm
6. Healthline. The 10 Best Foods That Are High In Zinc. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-foods-high-in-zinc
7. National Institutes of Health. Zinc. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/

Zinc