Zinc

The Science

Zinc

Zinc is an essential micro-nutrient that is commonly found in red meat, poultry and fish. It is necessary human health, growth, and our sense of taste. It is found throughout the body, but the body doesn’t store excess zinc, so it must be obtained from the foods and supplements we consume. Zinc is required for the immune system, wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function, and for fighting off viruses.

Zinc

Occurrence in Food & Supplements

“Meat and cereal products are rich in zinc. Zinc salts are also widely available in food supplements. In the UK, zinc supplements provide intakes up to 50 mg/day.” (EVM 2003)

Absorption & Bioavailability

Zinc Citrate, as used in Nutrienta Supplements, is a highly bioavailable form of zinc, which means it is more easily absorbed into the body’s cells than other forms of zinc, such as zinc oxide. (PubMed)

Safe Daily Level

“A Safe Upper Level of 25 mg/day for supplemental zinc is derived.” (EVM 2003)

Zinc Health Benefits

Zinc…

  • contributes to the normal function of the immune system.
  • contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.
  • has a role in the process of cell division.
  • contributes to normal DNA synthesis.
  • contributes to normal protein synthesis.
  • contributes to normal cognitive function.
  • contributes to normal fertility and reproduction.
  • contributes to normal macronutrient metabolism.
  • contributes to the maintenance of normal vision.
  • contributes to the maintenance of normal bones.
  • contributes to the maintenance of normal hair.
  • contributes to the maintenance of normal nails.
  • contributes to the maintenance of normal skin.
  • contributes to the maintenance of normal testosterone levels.

Further Information

Zinc

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).

Scientific References

“Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system. Zinc is crucial for normal development and function of cells mediating innate immunity, neutrophils, and NK cells. Macrophages also are affected by zinc deficiency. Phagocytosis, intracellular killing, and cytokine production all are affected by zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency adversely affects the growth and function of T and B cells.”
Prasad AS. Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Mol Med. 2008;14(5-6):353-357. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad

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“Zinc is known to play a central role in the immune system, and zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens. The immunologic mechanisms whereby zinc modulates increased susceptibility to infection have been studied for several decades. It is clear that 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 mediating nonspecific immunity such as neutrophils and natural killer cells.”
Shankar AH, Prasad AS. 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. PMID: 9701160.

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“Increased intracellular Zinc concentrations are known to efficiently impair replication of a number of RNA viruses, e.g. by interfering with correct proteolytic processing of viral polyproteins. Here, we… show that coronavirus and arterivirus replication can be inhibited by increased Zinc levels.”
te Velthuis AJW, van den Worm SHE, Sims AC, Baric RS, Snijder EJ, et al. (2010) Zn2+ Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity In Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture. PLOS Pathogens 6(11): e1001176.

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