January 27, 2012 in Health, Nutrition

If It’s Winter, It’s Cold Season

If you’re living in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s likely that you’re enduring winter and not really enjoying it. Moreover, if you’re like a lot of people, you’ve either been sick, are sick or will become sick at some point down the road. Many people resign themselves to this aspect of winter as inevitable. It’s not a matter of if you get sick, but rather a matter of when.

It doesn’t need to be that way. Moreover, if you do get sick, it’s not all that difficult to turn the usual 7-10 day illness into just a day or two of the sniffles. It’s all a matter of how well you maintain your health and what you choose to do in the face of a cold.

As the photo above suggests, most people begin reaching for medications. Alas, flu and common colds really don’t respond to medications in any meaningful way. In fact, most people respond just as well to placebo as meds. As such, I don’t bother with trying to alleviate symptoms and get right down to the matter of getting over the illness itself.

Longtime readers of Living Intentionally will know that I often trumpet the virtues of maintaining adequate blood-serum levels of Vitamin D, which isn’t actually a vitamin but is actually a steroid hormone. Vitamin D has been increasingly shown to promote optimal immune function. However, it isn’t the only player in the immune system game. There is another to which we should pay adequate attention.

Zinc and Your Immune System

Zinc isn’t something we hear much about. That’s a shame, really, as zinc is an essential trace element that is vital for our well-being. Zinc is so prevalent in our biological functions that it is the only metal that is present in all enzyme classes. Zinc is so prevalent that even brain plasticity is dependent upon adequate levels of zinc in our systems. Without adequate zinc in our diet, our ability to learn and retain knowledge is significantly compromised.

Zinc is a key player in proper immune function. Without adequate zinc, our ability to heal wounds, reduce inflammation and correctly respond to antigens is reduced. For men, zinc deficiency is also linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. As prostate cancer is increasingly common in men in the 21st century, zinc supplementation can be a valuable ally in maintaining one’s health.

The recommended daily allowance of zinc in adults is 11 mg, but the upper tolerable limit has been determined to be 40 mg. As with many other supplements, more zinc is not better. In fact, overdoing it can be seriously detrimental to your health. By all means, stay below the upper tolerable limit. Zinc is essential, yes, but because it is present in all enzyme classes and interacts with all sorts of micronutrients in the body, it’s important not to upset the balance. As well, just as insufficient zinc is implicated with increased risk of prostate cancer in men, so, too, is an overabundance; zinc preferentially binds to prostate tissues, and zinc is abundant in semen.

Enjoying good health is not a matter of popping a few pills. And if you come down with a cold, eating a bunch of Vitamin C alone isn’t the solution. We need to eat a well balanced diet, and it helps to augment that with a broad spectrum of dietary supplements. There is no silver bullet, no magic bean, that creates the panacea of well-being. To be well, we need to live well.

If you’ll pardon the pun, to be well, one need live intentionally.

Light and Laughter,


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