Do we really need zinc and vitamin D? Doctor weighs in

Marane A. Plaza –

February 9, 2022 | 1:10 p.m.

MANILA, Philippines — As we face new strains of COVID-19, it’s always a good idea to develop and maintain habits that help support our immune systems and overall health. By now, almost all of us might be in the know about the importance of good nutrition, safety protocols, and of course, daily vitamins.

But how much zinc and vitamin D do we really need?

According to Dr. Mercedita Macalintal, Clinical Nutrition Support Specialist, an expert at the Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), zinc and vitamin D are two essential nutrients that our body needs to stay healthy and prevent disease.

“Even mild to moderate degrees of zinc deficiency can impair immune function and make you susceptible to pneumonia and other illnesses. Meanwhile, vitamin D or what we call the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is critical for bone health as well as infection and inflammation control,” he explained in a statement sent to


Dr. Macalintal explains that zinc is responsible for the proper functioning of the immune system by scavenging harmful free radicals, repairing cells, and replicating them.

Zinc is also for the catalytic activity of more than 100 enzymes, the synthesis of genetic materials, and the maintenance of cellular integration. It is also essential for one’s own growth and development.

But here’s the problem: the body cannot produce or store zinc.

“To prevent zinc deficiency and the problems that come with it, you need to supplement your body through the foods you eat,” he said.

Lack of diversity in the diet can make us more prone to zinc deficiency. Dr. Macalintal said that people with zinc deficiency may experience poor immune system function, slow wound healing, decreased sense of taste and smell, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and skin rashes around the nose , the mouth and the anus.

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Zinc deficiency is also associated with spontaneous abortion, congenital malformation, low birth weight, intrauterine growth retardation, and possible complications during labor and delivery in pregnant women.

To get enough zinc, it is imperative to include foods naturally rich in zinc. Dr. Macalintal lists oysters, crabs, lobsters, pork, beans, nuts, whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice, dairy products, and some green leafy vegetables as foods that can help us. to consume adequate amounts of zinc.

The body’s requirement for zinc depends on age, he added. She noted that according to the latest Recommended Energy Intake (RENI) from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), an adult woman will need 5 mg per day, while an adult man will need 7 mg per day.

Pregnant or lactating women, meanwhile, will need 12 milligrams. Children should take at least 2 milligrams and up to 10 mg, depending on their age and gender.

Vitamin D

With most of us staying home, Dr. Macalintal warned that we could now be more prone to vitamin D deficiency, which can affect the way our bodies fight off acute respiratory infections and prevent chronic diseases like flu. coronary heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

“Having an adequate amount of vitamin D can also help improve your mood, especially during these difficult times. Vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of depression and can even affect cognitive function and brain health,” she added.

Various factors can lead to vitamin D deficiency, such as age (since older adults are less able to produce vitamin D compared to younger adults), skin pigmentation due to UV penetration into the skin, obesity, and patients suffering from certain forms of malabsorption disorders and excessive use of blocking creams.

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Some signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • frequent colds, flu, and other respiratory infections;
  • muscle, bone and back pain;
  • skeletal deformities;
  • slow wound healing;
  • severe hair loss;
  • and irritability, especially in children due to bone pain, Dr. Macalintal said.

“We get vitamin D from the food we eat. Our skin can produce vitamin D when we get our daily dose of sunlight. That is why it is also known as the sunshine vitamin,” he said.

“If you can’t get healthy time in the sun, you can still increase the amounts of vitamin D in your body by eating fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver. Taking vitamin D supplements can also help.”

At a time when there is a new virus that threatens our health, we must take all possible measures to keep ourselves safe. And by staying healthy, like increasing our zinc and vitamin D levels, we’re also doing our part to keep our loved ones and the community at large safe.

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