Zinc is an important mineral involved in making new cells and enzymes to help your body fight infection. It also helps use to digest nutrients such as carbohydrates, fat, and protein in food and is vital in wound healing. Does supplementation help treat or prevent a cold? Which foods should you eat?
Good food sources of zinc are:
– Dairy foods such as cheese
– Bread – fortified with zinc
– Cereal products – with added zinc
– Nuts, seeds
Studies show that zinc may help to prevent or reduce the length of a cold (not COVID specific), though more research is needed. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you may need a supplementation as zinc is found mostly in animal products. The fibre in plant foods, such as legumes, can reduce the absorption of zinc. Supplements are not needed unless your diet is low in the above foods, or you are diagnosed with a zinc deficiency. Too much zinc can affect the absorption of other minerals, such as iron and copper, so it’s important to seek professional advice before supplementing. Include a good range of lean meats, fish, low fat dairy, wholegrains, nuts & seeds to meet your needs.
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Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc Factsheet for Health Professionals [online]. National Institutes of Health. 2021. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/ [accessed 26 June 2022].
TH. Chan. The Nutrition Source. 2020. Zinc [online]. Harvard, School of Public Health. Available at h https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/zinc/ [accessed 26 June 2022].
By Emma McShane, Dietitian, (Edited by Nicole Bando (APD, IBCLC),) July 2022