During times of illness the body quickly uses up its stores of zinc. Zinc deficiency can result in increased inflammation and oxidative stress, making it more difficult for our immune system to fight off the original illness. Many of the complications associated with severe illness are exacerbated by zinc deficiency. The symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss and poor wound healing, which interestingly are the symptoms we experienced when fighting a viral infection. So zinc supplementation isn’t just important before we get ill, it is equally important while we are ill.
Zinc Supplements and the Immune System
“The micronutrient zinc is important for maintenance and development of immune cells of both the innate and adaptive immune system” (PubMed).
“An abundance of evidence has accumulated over the past 50 years to demonstrate the antiviral activity of zinc against a variety of viruses, and via numerous mechanisms” (PubMed).
“Zinc supplementation… decreases viral replication, preserves antiviral immunity, attenuates the risk of hyper-inflammation, supports anti-oxidative effects and thus reduces lung damage and minimized secondary infections” (Frontiers in Immunology).
“When zinc is the only experimental variable, there is direct causal evidence that additional zinc can result in a lower rate of infectious diseases” (British Journal of Nutrition).