When you think of the key health benefits of zinc, vitamin D and vitamin C, you might jump straight to things like maintaining reproductive health, helping to build strong bones and supporting a well-functioning immune system, respectively. And you’d be right. But not only do all three of those nutrients have much broader roles to play in supporting health and wellbeing, they’re often involved in the same specific health benefits, too.
In short, you need all three of them for good health. The slightly longer story is the fact that…
They’re all involved in supporting and maintaining a healthy immune system
Zinc, vitamin D and vitamin C all play important – if slightly different – roles in supporting the immune system. While zinc helps to develop and activate a type of white blood cell – T-lymphocyte – that protects the body from infection, vitamin D supports the production of germ-fighting proteins by key immune cells. As for vitamin C, not only does the body rely on it to put up a good fight whenever it detects a bug or a virus, but it can even shorten the length and severity of a cold.
Vitamin C and zinc are both important for skin health
Both nutrients are involved in wound healing, so much so that being deficient in either has been associated with wounds that take significantly longer to recover. Plus, both vitamin C and zinc are required for the production of collagen as well as being a key ingredient in cartilage, which is the connective tissue that cushions and lubricates the joints. Collagen is vital for helping skin look plump and firm, while it also contributes to the wound-healing process, too.
And they both work as antioxidants
Antioxidants, like zinc and vitamin C, are compounds that search for and neutralise free radicals, which are unstable chemicals that can cause damage to the body’s cells and other structures when too many of them are present. Free radicals are the result of a process in the body called oxidation. As well as being a naturally occurring process, oxidation is accelerated by a wide variety of factors. These include some that can be avoided, such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, as well as some that are harder to avoid, like stress, air pollution and even sunlight.
While the best natural source of vitamin D is exposure to the sun, a wide variety of foods contain zinc, like oysters, seafood and red meat, as well as some plant-based ones including wholegrains and legumes. And it’s the same story with vitamin C: you’ll find it in everything from citrus fruits, broccoli and Brussels sprouts to cauliflower, cabbage, kiwi fruit and strawberries.
If you’re looking for additional support, you can also take zinc, vitamin D or vitamin C as supplements. It is recommended to take your vitamin C and vitamin D supplements with a meal.