Zinc plays an important role in immune function and reduces the risk, severity, and duration of infectious diseases. We know that in developing countries zinc deficiency is a problem, but you may also be at risk even if you live in an industrialized country. If you have chronic health conditions, are over the age of 60, or eat a diet that does not include meat, you may need a zinc supplement.
Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system, from the barrier of the skin to gene regulation within lymphocytes. Zinc is crucial for normal development and function of cells and is needed for natural killer cells which help fight off infections. A zinc deficiency not only disrupts a healthy immune system, but also causes inflammation.
The body does not store zinc, so a daily intake is needed to maintain a healthy immune system. The recommended daily amount of zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women, although studies have shown that up to 40 mg a day is still safe.
There have been many articles published recently about zinc and it’s ability to raise anti-viral resistance. As many are concerned about this issue because of the current pandemic, those wanting to know more are encouraged to visit PubMed.gov and use the search engine to look up zinc and viruses or zinc and Covid-19 to find what has been published to date.
Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Aug;68(2 Suppl):447S-463S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/68.2.447S.
Zinc in Infection and Inflammation. Nutrients. 2017 Jun 17;9(6):624. doi: 10.3390/nu9060624.