Zinc is an essential micronutrient that we may not think about every day. It is considered a trace mineral, meaning we only need a small amount daily. Recommendations for women are about 9 mg/day and men 11 mg/day.

While we only require a small amount daily, zinc plays several crucial roles. Zinc is essential in periods of rapid growth, sensing taste and smell, and about one hundred enzymes in the body use it to carry out chemical reactions. Zinc is also vital for wound healing, the creation of DNA, cell growth, protein building, and supporting the immune system. While zinc won’t cure a cold, if you start to experience symptoms, it may help reduce the severity and duration.

You will find zinc in shellfish, animal proteins, nuts, legumes, seeds, whole grains, fortified cereals, and supplements. While it is always recommended to get our nutrients through foods first, supplements are available to fill in the gaps. Excessive supplementation, however, can interfere with the absorption of copper and iron. So, be sure to work with your doctor if taking a zinc supplement and consult a registered dietitian to improve zinc intake through food sources.

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