When it comes to supplements, minerals often play second fiddle to vitamins, which typically seize most of the limelight. Many people are aware of the importance getting enough calcium and magnesium in their diets. But two lesser known minerals ““ zinc and selenium ““ don’t often get the credit they deserve, especially when it comes to bolstering the immune system.
Now that we’re in the middle of the winter, it’s especially important to take steps to support immune health. Here are some reasons to consider adding zinc and selenium to your diet, along with foods to help you easily increase your intake:
Zinc is a key ingredient in the formation of superoxide dismutase (SOD), an important free radical scavenger in the body. In addition to this antioxidant protection and immune support, the mineral is required for several hundred enzymes in the body to function properly, and it plays a part in eye health and appetite regulation.* Zinc helps support healthy protein and DNA synthesis, as well as healthy insulin production.*
Besides taking a zinc supplement, there are plenty of ways to add more zinc to your diet. Found naturally in red meat, poultry, fish and eggs, zinc is also plentiful in foods suitable for snacking, such as cashews and almonds. Either makes a delicious addition to grain-based salads or topping for fruit compotes. Both are also available as nut butters.
Say hello to selenium
Selenium, a well researched nutrient, is valued as a free-radical scavenger and a player in several antioxidant ,enzyme-systems in the body.* In addition to its ability to promote healthy immunity, this mineral also supports the cardiovascular system and thyroid gland.*
To increase your selenium intake, try Brazil nuts. These triangular-shaped nuts have a soft, oily texture and a rich flavor, and they can be chopped and added to recipes, used as toppings, ground into nut butter or even made into nut milk.
Sunflower seeds are also a good selenium source. They’re rich in protein, iron, vitamin E and other nutrients, and can easily be added to homemade trail mixes containing nuts and dried fruits.
Do you have a favorite way to add foods containing zinc and selenium to your meals? Share it with us in the comments below.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health. She is the co-author of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine and co-author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness.