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The Importance of Zinc for Immunity

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The trace mineral Zinc has long been touted as a miracle mineral when it comes to boosting the immune system and helping fight off infection. Studies show that, when taken at the onset of symptoms, Zinc can shorten the duration and severity of colds and other viruses, as well as work preventatively by strengthening the immune response. This is proving especially true with Covid 19.

Why is Zinc Important?

Zinc is a trace mineral that helps the body perform more than 100 biochemical processes that contribute to a number of vital functions, from supporting normal growth and development, helping wounds heal, and keeping the immune system strong by enhancing both the innate and adaptive immune system responses.

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Innate immunity is the immune response triggered when any infectious agent is detected by the body, while the adaptive response is triggered by familiarity — either you’ve had the infection before, or you’ve been vaccinated against it.

Because the Coronavirus is novel, or new, our immune systems have yet to adapt, so we must rely on a strong innate response to mount any sort of effective fight.

This is where Zinc can be helpful.

Even though our bodies only require trace amounts of it to support our needs, 12% of the general population, and as much as 40% of the elderly, are Zinc deficient.

Symptoms of low Zinc levels include:

  • loss of/altered sense of smell and/or taste
  • greater effect on older people
  • hair loss
  • decreased appetite
  • delayed wound healing
  • loss of mental acuity
  • rough skin
  • fatigue/lethargy

As you can see, there is much crossover in symptoms of Zinc deficiency and Covid 19.

Viral infections further deplete Zinc stores, worsening deficiencies in those that already have them and creating a deficiency in others. Studies show Covid 19 has an even more dramatic effect on Zinc levels than other viruses, which is why having adequate levels of this powerful mineral is proving to be so valuable in resisting and fighting the Coronavirus.

Where is Zinc Found?

Because the body does not manufacture Zinc on its own, it is necessary to get it through diet and/or supplementation.  Zinc can be found in abundance in organic red meats, eggs, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and oysters, which have the highest amount per serving than any other food.

The National Institute of Health recommends eight mg of Zinc per day for adult women, and 11 for men, but because so many are deficient, even higher amounts might be necessary, with as much as 80-90 mg per day needed when fighting infection. That would be nearly impossible to get through even the healthiest diet, which is why supplementation in the form of Zinc lozenges, capsules, or liquids can be so helpful. As with any supplement, however, there are things to consider.

  • Ensure it’s a pure-Zinc product, free of other ingredients like Citric Acid, that can actually negate the effectiveness of the Zinc
  • Avoid combining with antibiotics as they affect the potency of each other. Take Zinc supplements, or consume Zinc-rich foods, two hours before, or four to six hours after, antibiotics for maximum absorption.
  • Too much Zinc for an extended period can lead to suppression or absorption of other important trace minerals, including copper and iron, so elevated doses should be reserved for the first three to four days of the onset of symptoms.

If you would like to know if you have a Zinc deficiency, there is a simple “swish test” we can do in our new office that provides immediate results. We also stock quality pure-Zinc products to assist in the maintenance of immune system function, and we can help with Zinc dosing recommendations for all members of your family.

There are many factors that determine whether someone exposed to a virus will get sick or become symptomatic, including quality of diet and sleep, stress level, and the body‘s natural immune response, among others. With cold and flu season approaching, and Covid 19 concerns still high, it’s a good time to investigate the potential of Zinc to boost your natural immunity.

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