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The Benefits of Zinc

The Benefits of Zinc

Winter often sees a surge of acute and infectious colds and flus leaving you fatigued and inflamed for weeks. Specific nutrients such as zinc is vital for optimal immune function. The crucial role of Zinc in supporting immunity is its influence on the antioxidant defence network. Research has found that damage that is caused during a flu causes direct tissue damage and can increase the infection of the virus. Zinc is a key mineral needed for reducing the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections and supports the immune system, while having both direct antimicrobial and antibacterial actions.

Zinc is not only essential for the Winter season, it has many roles to play in out body. Serum zinc levels have been found to be deficient in over 50% of the population, making zinc an essential nutrient for general health and immunity. During stress and mental health imbalances, copper rise tends to deplete zinc stores leading to impaired health.

Skin Health: Approximately 6% of the body's zinc stores are located in healthy skin. In wounded skin, however, zinc levels have been found to increase locally within the first 24 hours, most likely to aid in the removal of damaged tissue and to promote wound healing.

A number of variations in the genes regulating skin barrier function have been identified in people affected by eczema, indicating that there may be a genetic component to the disease. Such variations lead to protease hyperactivity which facilitates the breakdown of junctions between the corneocytes in the outer layer of the epidermis, causing 'leaky skin'.

Compromised immune system: Zinc deficiency can cause reduced or weakened antibodies and compromise the immune system. Thus the deficient person will be prone to infection or flu.

Diarrhoea: A compromised immune system makes one susceptible to infection. One of these infections is a bacteria that causes diarrhoea.

Hair loss and skin lesions: Zinc is important for normal cell growth. Zinc nutrition deficiency weakens the cells, which can result in hair loss in case of cells on the scalp and lesions on the skin.

Loss of appetite and/or anorexia: A deficiency of zinc causes decreased loss of appetite. If zinc deficiency is not identified and treated, decreased loss of appetite can eventually lead to anorexia.

Impairment of cognitive and motor functions: Zinc deficiency in a pregnant mother can not only weaken the mother, but can also cause damage to the fetus’s neurological system, impairing the motor skills and cognitive skills of the infant.

Other signs of zinc deficiency are reduced fertility, rashes on the skin, spots on fingernails, sleep disturbance, loss of sex drive, loss of taste or smell, and ¬ in some cases ¬ mild anaemia.

Zinc nutritional deficiency can be treated by taking zinc supplements and increasing intake of zinc through the diet.

Foods rich in zinc are wheat, oats, pumpkin seeds, eggs, milk, oysters, nuts, meat, and peas. Zinc supplements are generally included in complete supplements. These zinc supplements are taken orally. If diagnosed with zinc deficiency, one needs to consult a physician for the correct dosage and type of zinc supplements to be taken.

Zinc should always be taken in recommended doses. Excessive intake can be toxic, causing nausea, vomiting, headache, and abdominal pain. Continued intake of zinc in excess quantities can lead to organ failure and can even be fatal.

If you do contract an upper respiratory infection, cold or flu, ingredients and herbs such as, Andrographis paniculuta, Picrorrhiza kurroa and Elderberry can help to stimulate immune defences to help you recover rapidly, while providing symptomatic relief for infections. In fact, Andrographis, at 6.0 g per day has been shown to provide symptomatic relief comparable to a 3.9 g daily dose of paracetomol. Picrorrhiza stimulates immune defences and encourages T lymphocyte, natural killer cell and neutrophil function, whilst simultaneously enhancing phagocytosis. Elderberry reduces the duration of symptoms in individuals suffering from the flu.

With the right support and correct prescriptions, we can keep you tracking towards health this winter.

Vanita Dahia is a pharmacist and naturopath who has been in the health industry for over 30 years. She has extensive experience in this area. For more information or to chat to Vanita to see if this treatment is right for you, call and book in for a 5 minute free phone chat to see how we can help. Call 1300 21 44 25.

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