So what can you do to stay well and avoid those winter viruses?Apart from the usual suggestions:
- Vitamin C
That something is Zinc - for good Winter healthYour body contains approximately 2.5 grams of zinc, which is stored in different tissues. The highest concentration is in the male prostate and semen, (hence its connection with male sexual function). Concentrations occur in the retina of the eye, heart, spleen, lungs, brain, and adrenal glands. Your skin contains a high amount of zinc, as do your nails, hair, and teeth.
Think Zinc to Boost Your ImmunityI can’t remember who coined that phrase ‘Think Zinc’ but as an advertising slogan it couldn’t be more apt! Zinc is essential for every cell in your body and indeed is needed for the synthesis of your DNA. It is vital in many functions that your body carries out including:
- Production of enzymes
- Normal growth and development
- Maintenance and repair of tissues – aids in healing after injury, surgery or burns
- Sexual function – male prostate problems
- Skin diseases
How does Zinc help with colds and flu?The common cold and flu are usually cased by rhinoviruses and are transmitted through physical contact and through the air. As you will know, they are the most frequently experienced illnesses and much time off work and school is taken by both adults and children to recover from their uncomfortable symptoms. They can lead to complications for some people resulting in otitis media (middle ear infection), sinusitis and more serious conditions for those who already have respiratory problems. Zinc inhibits the replication of rhinovirus and hence stops or shortens the duration of colds for people in good health. It also increases T lymphocyte production and enhances the function of other white blood cells. From a publication last winter by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (a respected medical clearinghouse for medical studies from England), comes evidence that indeed Zinc can be beneficial in shortening the duration of cold symptoms as well as preventing their onset. The Cochrane researchers reviewed many Zinc trials, both those where Zinc was used as a treatment as well as those where Zinc was used to prevent colds. The authors concluded, “Zinc administered within 24 hours of onset of symptoms reduces the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy people. When supplemented for at least five months, it reduces cold incidence, school absenteeism and prescription of antibiotics in children” In addition “People taking zinc are also less likely to have persistence of their cold symptoms beyond seven days”.
For colds and flu, how much Zinc should you take?For best effect, at the onset of symptoms, zinc should be taken in small doses every 2-3 hours for 4 or 5 consecutive days with an average dose of 15 mg up to a total of 60-90 mg daily. For prevention 15-30 mg daily is sufficient.
Can you get enough Zinc from food?Here are some of the best sources of Zinc
- Oysters - about 8mg of zinc per oyster
- Organ meats, beef, pork, chicken all rich sources of zinc.
- Whole grains, legumes, nuts (Pecans and Brazils) and seeds provide from 0.2 to about 3 mg per serving (a handful). These foods are high in phytic acid, which reduces zinc’s availability. Cooking helps to reduce levels of phytic acid.
- Egg yolks
- Pumpkin seeds
- Ginger root, mustard, chilli powder, and black pepper