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10 Foods With Zinc You Should Add to Your Diet to Help Boost Your Immune System

Prevention Logo By Krista Linares, R.D.N. of Prevention | Slide 1 of 11: Over the last two years, interest in immune system-supporting nutrients like zinc has been rising, thanks largely in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.It’s true that zinc is an essential mineral that may help support immune function and eye health. But rather than worrying about rushing to the pharmacy to pick up a supplement, try incorporating more foods with zinc into your routine. Why should you try to get more zinc in your diet? Zinc plays an important role in immune function. People who are deficient in zinc may show declines in immune function and may be more susceptible to infectious diseases such as pneumonia. Plus, some studies have shown zinc may reduce the duration of the common cold, which is why zinc lozenges are commonly sold in the cold and flu aisle at the pharmacy. Zinc deficiency has also been associated with age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older adults. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc is 11 mg/day for adult men and 8 mg/day for adult women. Most people with varied diets are able to meet this recommendation through food sources. However, people on vegetarian diets may need to consume higher amounts of zinc. This is because even though there are plenty of plant-based sources of zinc, most of these foods are also high in phytic acid, which interferes with the body’s absorption of zinc. Even in the case of vegetarian diets, it’s recommended to prioritize food as your zinc source. Though it’s important to note that it’s easy to ingest too much zinc from supplements. An excess of zinc can cause gastrointestinal distress such as abdominal pain and vomiting. Even more, excessive intake of zinc can also interfere with other essential nutrients like copper. So instead of reaching for a supplement, you might want to consider upping your intake of certain zinc-rich foods. But, which foods contain zinc? Animal sources are the biggest sources of zinc, including seafood, meats, and dairy products. However, most protein sources, including vegetarian ones, contain zinc and can contribute to your daily intake. Simply varying your protein sources can increase your zinc consumption. Looking to increase your intake of the mineral? Try incorporating any of the following 10 foods into your diet, all of which are particularly high in zinc.

Over the last two years, interest in immune system-supporting nutrients like zinc has been rising, thanks largely in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s true that zinc is an essential mineral that may help support immune function and eye health. But rather than worrying about rushing to the pharmacy to pick up a supplement, try incorporating more foods with zinc into your routine.

Why should you try to get more zinc in your diet? Zinc plays an important role in immune function. People who are deficient in zinc may show declines in immune function and may be more susceptible to infectious diseases such as pneumonia. Plus, some studies have shown zinc may reduce the duration of the common cold, which is why zinc lozenges are commonly sold in the cold and flu aisle at the pharmacy. Zinc deficiency has also been associated with age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older adults.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc is 11 mg/day for adult men and 8 mg/day for adult women. Most people with varied diets are able to meet this recommendation through food sources. However, people on vegetarian diets may need to consume higher amounts of zinc. This is because even though there are plenty of plant-based sources of zinc, most of these foods are also high in phytic acid, which interferes with the body’s absorption of zinc.

Even in the case of vegetarian diets, it’s recommended to prioritize food as your zinc source. Though it’s important to note that it’s easy to ingest too much zinc from supplements. An excess of zinc can cause gastrointestinal distress such as abdominal pain and vomiting. Even more, excessive intake of zinc can also interfere with other essential nutrients like copper.

So instead of reaching for a supplement, you might want to consider upping your intake of certain zinc-rich foods. But, which foods contain zinc? Animal sources are the biggest sources of zinc, including seafood, meats, and dairy products. However, most protein sources, including vegetarian ones, contain zinc and can contribute to your daily intake. Simply varying your protein sources can increase your zinc consumption. Looking to increase your intake of the mineral? Try incorporating any of the following 10 foods into your diet, all of which are particularly high in zinc.

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