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Add zinc to your diet for a health boost but be careful not to overdose on it

Zinc is naturally found in many different foods.

Zinc is essential for regulating immune function and it can boost overall health too. Read on to know all about this nutrient that drives many bodily functions.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Updated : June 26, 2020 8:34 PM IST

Zinc is one of the essential nutrients that gives your immune system and boost. A deficiency in this nutrient can make you more susceptible to disease and illness. Other than boosting your immune system, it is also necessary for a number of bodily functions including stimulation of at least 100 different enzymes. It is also responsible for correctly synthesizing DNA, promoting healthy growth during childhood and healing wounds. You can easily get zinc from dietary sources and most experts recommend that you add more such foods to your diet instead to taking supplements.

The role of zinc in strengthening your immune system

A study in the European Journal of Immunology says that zinc is essential for regulating immune function. It does so by activating the T- cells. These cells control and regulate immune responses and enables the body to attack infected cells. Now, since we are in the middle of the COVIS-19 pandemic, it is all the more important to boost your immune system. To do this, you must ensure that you are getting your daily requirement of this nutrient. You need only a small amount of zinc for your body to function properly. For an average adult man, just 11milligrams per day is enough and for women it is 8 milligrams per day.

Dietary sources of zinc

You can add meats, fish and other seafood to your diet for your daily requirement of this nutrient. Lobster is the best source of this nutrient. Vegetarians can get it from beans, nuts, whole grain cereals and dairy products. You may also add pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa and oatmeal to your diet. Nowadays many breakfast cereals are fortified with zinc. You can also take this in the form of capsules and tablets. But consult a doctor before you start.

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Signs of zinc deficiency

Sometimes, if you suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, liver disease and sickle cell disease, your body may not be able to absorb this nutrient. You may also be eating the wrong foods. But whatever the cause, zinc deficiency can have an adverse effect on your health. Usual symptoms of this deficiency are loss of appetite, anemia, slow wound healing, acne, eczema, cognition problems and diarrhea. Sometimes, you may also experience an abnormal sense of taste and smell, lethargy, skin lesions, depression and hair loss. Children may exhibit developmental issues.

Adverse effects of zinc overdose

You must always consult a doctor if you are planning to take this as a supplement. Too much of this nutrient can cause many health problems including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and abdominal cramps. You may also experience headaches and diarrhea. A zinc overdose may also give you kidney stones. Zinc toxicity may also give you flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, cough, headache and fatigue. It can lower good cholesterol levels and put you at risk of heart disease. It can also suppress your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections.

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