Winter is around the corner, which often brings concern for how to best support your immune system and avoid catching viruses. While a well-balanced diet, adequate sleep, time outside, and daily activity are important components to building a strong immune system, supplements can go a long way in boosting your immunity.
There is a slew of vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that tout immune benefits, but is there one best supplement to improve your immunity? Based on current research, zinc appears to have plenty of convincing data in this area.
What role does zinc play in your immune system?
Zinc is an essential nutrient that many obtain through their diet from foods like oysters, red meat, seafood, legumes, and fortified grains, like cereal.
Those who eat these animal-based foods on a regular basis likely consume adequate amounts of zinc; however, those who follow plant-based diets are more likely to be deficient in this nutrient.
RELATED: Simple Ways to Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency, Say Experts
Zinc helps to support the immune system by fighting off bacteria and viruses, and those who have low levels of zinc are thought to be at higher risk of pneumonia and other infections.
Additionally, when taken in the form of a lozenge or syrup, zinc has been shown to reduce the duration of the common cold and help speed recovery, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
How much zinc should you take to support immunity?
While there is more research needed to determine the ideal amount of zinc supplementation necessary to reduce symptoms of illness, like the common cold, the recommended daily intake for adults is 8 milligrams for women and 11 milligrams for men.
Zinc is often present in multivitamins, and because of its antimicrobial properties, you will frequently see zinc in many other forms, such as lozenges, liquid, nasal sprays, and gels.
Do you need to take a zinc supplement?
For those who eat animal-based sources of zinc on a daily basis, supplementing zinc via a multivitamin will likely provide adequate amounts of this nutrient.
However, those who rely on plant-based sources of zinc may benefit from a designated zinc supplement to achieve appropriate zinc levels.
Additionally, using a non-pill form of zinc supplementation when you start to feel symptoms of a cold may be especially beneficial in aiding in reducing symptoms and shortening the duration.
Zinc can easily be found in food sources, but concentrated amounts in non-pill forms appear to provide significant benefits to the immune system.
To best support your immunity, ensure a healthful diet and lifestyle, and use supplements, like zinc, for an added boost to your immune support.
For more healthy eating news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read this next:
- The #1 Worst Drink For Your Immunity, Says Dietitian
- The Final Verdict On Which Vitamins Actually Boost Your Immunity
- The Worst Breakfast Habits for Your Immunity, Say Dietitians