While we wade through this pandemic, you probably have been reading a lot more about the importance of zinc supplements in boosting immunity, than ever before! And with reason... Zinc is a key mineral that is needed to rev up more than 300 enzymes in the body. As per studies, it is a useful mineral to have sufficiently available in your body to help with the flu and the common cold; building immunity; many infections; acne, cholesterol and much more.
People consume zinc through natural food sources, even whole foods, or in the form of over-the-counter medication. It is easier to absorb zinc through natural food sources than artificial supplements. The zinc varieties that absorb the trace mineral better in the body like zinc picolinate, are quite expensive.
Zinc supplements if consumed within the recommended dosage of 40mg per day, may not be such a concern, but any more than that can cause side effects including nausea, digestive issues, flu symptoms including fever, coughing, and fatigue. Overdose can also interfere with the body’s innate ability to absorb other minerals like copper and some other forms of antibiotics. But you can always meet your daily zinc requirement through dietary and herbal sources that are natural and safe, and come loaded with many other important micronutrients and minerals that your body needs to synthesize zinc better.
1. Natural zinc supplement: Holy basil or Tulsi
More and more people are turning to natural options like herbs such as holy basil which is considered as the queen of herbs in the ancient healing system of Ayurveda for its plethora of benefits for the human body and mind. Boosting immunity is just one of them. There have also been studies to support the use of holy basil for its therapeutic benefits. It is high on nutrition and contains vitamin A and C, calcium, zinc (about 7.1 mg, meeting 47% RDA), and iron.
Chronic stress can be damaging to our immune system and the last thing one needs during these challenging times is a compromised immune system. Holy basil comes in handy here, as a powerful adaptogen, that is, it helps the body adapt to stress and improves mental resilience, irrespective of whether the source of stress is a physical, mental, chemical, or emotional one.
The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine mentions that the anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties present in holy basil can be compared to that of antidepressant drugs like diazepam. A study found that people who took holy basil every day, showed less signs of anxiety, stress and depression and felt more connected to their surroundings.
Apart from that, the herb is known from ages to help with infections and wounds due to its antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. There is research available to show its wound healing property against acne, keloids and ulcers.
It helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and is good for those who are pre-diabetic or have diabetes type-2. Studies have shown, holy basil helps manage weight gain, cholesterol, insulin resistance and with many respiratory issues.
2. Brahmi (Indian pennywort or bacopa monnieri)
This is yet another Ayurvedic super herb, rich in zinc, known for its relaxing, antipyretic, and stress-reducing properties. It is an antioxidant herb that is known to enhance memory, learning, and concentration, and sharpen the intellect. But more importantly, it manages the production of a happy hormone called serotonin that helps the mind and body relax. It is known to help with a host of stress-related disorders including anxiety disorders & fatigue. Brahmi is also rich in minerals like sodium, potassium, manganese, zinc, and copper.
Studies show that daily intake of brahmi as a source of antioxidants for the body, is more effective than five doses of vitamin E.
3. Satavari (asparagus racemosus)
A species of the asparagus family, you probably know this herb for its fertility-boosting benefits. But this herb is also a storehouse of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help fortify immunity, help with stress and anxiety, improve digestion and importantly used in treating many respiratory ailments, according to Ayurveda.
Satavari can be a strong candidate for a herbal zinc supplement since it contains 0.54 mg zinc per 100 gms apart from other important minerals including iron, calcium, manganese, selenium, and vitamins like Thiamin, folates, niacin, vitamin K, E and C.
4. Bhringraj (false daisy)
Popular and almost unmissable as an ingredient in Ayurvedic or herbal hair oils, hair conditioners and hair masks for its moisturizing, nourishing, and revitalizing properties, Bhringraj is also a strong adaptogen. You will find that mothers massaging the heads of their daughters and sons with bhringraj oil for its dual benefit are a common sight in South Asia. It provides deep relaxation as well as nourishment for hair follicles. It is also loaded with vitamins, minerals and micronutrients including sodium, copper, iron, calcium, zinc and potassium.
Published by Ruchira Roy
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