Zinc: The Immune Support Mineral

Immune related disorders are one of the most common health problems that currently exist. While it may be common, it’s not normal to be constantly suffering from colds and infections; it’s a sign that your immune system needs a little bit of extra love. And there’s so many ways to do this – from nutrition to herbal supplements, to stress management. Today I’m talking about one particular nutrient that is so important to maintaining a healthy immune system – zinc!


Have you heard the buzz about zinc? It’s an incredibly important mineral and is a component of over 200 different enzymes – meaning it has a huge number of functions in the body! We also need to consume it every day, because our bodies do not store this essential mineral.


One of the best-known, and well studied, functions of zinc is its role in supporting the immune system. It has been shown that zinc supplements are helpful in reducing the severity and incidence or colds and other infections. Zinc lozenges (containing 25-50mg of dissolvable zinc) can be a great remedy for a sore throat and can sometimes prevent the progression of the flu.


Zinc is known as an immune builder, meaning that this nutrient is essential to our immune systems. Providing the body with the immune builders that it needs, and adding in immune boosters like herbal supplements is a great way to prevent illness.


Zinc is also an important mineral for skin health. Everything from acne to psoriasis can respond well to getting enough zinc. Because zinc enhances wound healing, it can also help speed up the healing of any skin troubles.


So how are you to tell if you’re not getting enough zinc? Some common signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency include:


Frequent colds and infections

White spots on nails


Slow wound healing

Loss of sense of smell and taste

Loss of appetite

Red stretch marks



Hair loss


If some of these sound familiar to you, it’s a good idea to look at boosting your zinc consumption by including more zinc-rich foods in your diet. These include:



Pumpkin seeds

Grass-fed beef









It’s also good to know of some of the factors that may make you more likely to experience zinc deficiency. Aging is one of the biggest ones, as our absorption of nutrients goes down as we age.


Birth control pills increase copper levels and, because copper competes with zinc, zinc deficiency is common in women who take birth control pills.


Stress also increases zinc needs, so really taking the time to properly manage your stress (I know, I know, you hear it all the time – but it really is worth saying again!) is important for ensuring sufficient levels.


Zinc deficiency is also more common in vegetarians, as the grains and legumes consumed in this diet can inhibit the absorption of zinc.


In cases like these, or if boosting your consumption of zinc-rich foods does not resolve symptoms, a good quality supplement can be beneficial. Look for a chelated form of zinc, as they are better absorbed than other forms.



By: Ali MacBoudreau

Registered Holistic Nutritionist

Ali is passionate about guiding her clients through whole foods and lifestyle changes to discover their most vibrant selves. To learn more about Ali and holistic nutrition please visit her website