What do we need zinc for?
- To process our macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. In other words to break down, absorb and use the food we eat.
- To make enzymes, those little proteins that act like chemical triggers in the body.
- It also helps with wound-healing. My granny was a chemist and a great fan of zinc pastes. She was always after us with a shaky claw full of white goo the minute she spotted any scrape or nappy rash.
Can zinc help with allergies?
Allergies are caused by an oversensitive immune system. It doesn't mean that the immune system is underactive; quite the opposite. The immune system is like our defence force. It patrols the body looking for threats and invaders. When it identifies something that it thinks could be dangerous, like a virus, it activates a siren.
An allergic reaction happens when the siren has been set off for something that is not a threat at all. Like a bit of pollen or some dog saliva.
The immune system cells have tumbled out of bed like disheveled soldiers, ready to fight. But it's a drop of dog saliva, not a cold. Doesn't matter – the army immune cells have their orders. The immune system sets off lots of inflammation with little histamine bombs. It's hoping that this will see off the threat.
This is what is behind an allergic reaction. All this inflammation can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. Histamine causes the mad itch you feel when you have an allergy. It can affect the skin or the respiratory system.
There have been numerous studies on zinc levels and allergies.
- Skin complaints like atopic dermatitis were found to be more prevalent in patients with low zinc levels.
- Zinc supplementation has been shown to relieve the symptoms of respiratory allergies and to shorten the length of common cold symptoms.
- People with asthma and allergic rhinitis were found to have lower levels of zinc in their blood and sputum. Zinc is shown to have a protective effect on the respiratory system.
Should anyone with allergies take zinc?
Studies have shown that allergies have been linked to low zinc levels.
If your diet is balanced and varied it should be rich in zinc. Here are the main sources of zinc in everyday foods:
- Meat, poultry, shellfish and dairy products.
- Wholegrain foods, like proper brown bread and wheat germ.
- Beans, nuts and seeds.
So, why are there so many allergies - are many of us not getting enough zinc?
A survey was published in 2018 that looked at the diets of UK adults. It highlighted potential deficiencies in both zinc and potassium. The group that was most at risk were the 20-29 age bracket.
It's possible that this is the age that likes to eat on the run. There may be more processed meals eaten and more take-outs.
There are no stores of zinc in the body. This is why it's important to get enough on a daily basis. It may be easy to be run low during a busy or tiring period. We need between 7-9.5 mg of zinc a day.
Reasons why you may be low on zinc:
- You eat on the run and eat a lot of processed food.
- You have been ill and had a period of time with a poor appetite.
- You hate meat and beans
- You are allergic to dairy and eat a lot of white bread
- You are a potato waffle vegan – this is what we call vegans who hate vegetables and homemade food.
So, if you have allergies and think you may be low on zinc, please have lovely food. Try some peanut butter on soda bread. A hearty bean stew or chicken soup. Doesn't that sound much better than itching and sneezing?
Try looking at our recipe hub for some delicious tips and ideas.
Top up your zinc levels
If you feel you need a little extra help to ensure your zinc levels are where they need to be, then try A.Vogel Immune Support.
Get your Recommended Daily Amount of Zinc with Immune Support
- Great source of immune-boosting zinc
- Contains the recommended daily amount of vitamin C
- Helps support the immune system
- Reduces tiredness and fatigue during spells of sickness
- Also contains vitamin D
- Convenient one-a-day tablet
"I do what I can to ward off illness, and I trust Vogel to have created a superior immune support product. (It includes nasturtium extract, which appeals to me)."
Read more customer reviews
For your amusement:
Zinc, as a metal, is also used to make stuff like batteries and telephones. I left no stone uncovered while researching zinc and its amazing properties! Check out the amusing Simpsons YouTube clip, 'A world without zinc'.