MANILA -- A clinical nutrition support specialist is encouraging the public to take enough zinc and vitamin D so their bodies can stay healthy and ward off diseases amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Mercedita Macalintal of the Makati Medical Center noted that people may now be more prone to nutritional deficiencies as they stay at home and develop new eating habits.
"Even mild to moderate degrees of zinc deficiency can impair immune function and make you susceptible to pneumonia and other diseases. Meanwhile, vitamin D or what we call the 'sunshine vitamin' is critical to bone health, as well as infection and inflammation control," she said in a statement.
According to Macalintal, zinc helps in removing harmful free radicals, as well as in repairing and replicating cells, among others.
She said the body can only get zinc through food as the body can't produce nor store it. Some of the food items naturally rich in zinc include oysters, crabs, lobsters, pork, beans, nuts, whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice, dairy products, and green leafy vegetables.
Those with zinc deficiency, Macalintal said, may experience poor immune system function, slow wound healing, diminished sense of taste and smell, appetite loss, diarrhea, and skin rashes around the nose, mouth, and anus.
Meanwhile, the expert said vitamin D helps in fighting acute respiratory infection and in preventing chronic illnesses like coronary heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
"Having adequate vitamin D can also help improve your mood, especially in these challenging times. Vitamin D deficiency may increase your risk of depression and may even affect cognitive function and brain health," she added.
Some of the signs 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 because of bone pains, according to Macalintal.
"We get vitamin D from the food we eat. Our skin can produce vitamin D when we get our daily dose of sunlight," she said, adding that fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver can help increase the amount of Vitamin D in the body.