The science behind Zinc for immunity

Reviewed and fact-checked by Giulia Guerrini, Superintendent Pharmacist. Read our editorial policy to see how we create informative, accurate content.

It’s about time we talked about boosting our immune system amidst the coronavirus outbreak. The human body is a marvel of nature. It’s adequately equipped to fight off any deadly pathogens and complex diseases, given that the immune system functions at its optimum capacity. In this article, we’ll look into the role of zinc in enhancing the human immune system – let's get straight into it!

1. Regulating lymphocytes

European Journal of Immunology explains that zinc is vital for the activation of T lymphocytes in our body. T cells are an integral component of the adaptive immune system in the body. They are responsible for destroying infected host cells, activating other immune cells, and releasing cytokines that regulate the overall immune response of the body. Zinc deficiency can significantly impact how our body responds to a foreign invasion. Zinc-deficient people are at the increased risk of infection and susceptible to a variety of pathogens.

2. Tackling covid-19

Zinc helps in impairing the replication of a variety of RNA viruses. A study in 2010 showed that the use of zinc pyrithione could inhibit the replication of SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV); it is a different type of coronavirus which caused an outbreak back in 2002. Theoretically, zinc can assist our immune system, and during the early stages of COVID-19, it can help to reduce the symptoms severity and the duration of illness; studies are being conducted to document this phenomenon, but it has not been yet proven.

3. Role in inflammation

The purpose of zinc in reducing inflammation is a growing area of research. Inflammation is associated with conditions like heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis. A study conducted by Ohio State University found that zinc is used in the host cells that are involved in fighting infection, in preventing the body's immune system from spiraling out of control. It was deduced that if enough zinc is not present, the immune response can wreak havoc on the own body cells and cause massive destruction.

4. Dna synthesis

Zinc is a vital component of the process of DNA synthesis and cellular proliferation. As a result, immune cells are highly dependent on the adequate supply of zinc to ensure seamless cell division and multiplication. If the body were to face a zinc shortage, immune cells would take the immediate impact. With an abnormal cell division rate, our body's defense will be rendered useless against foreign invasion.

5. Wound healing

Zinc is known to aid the process of healing wounds in the body. It helps the skin to stay healthy. Health problems like ulcers may develop if the body lacks adequate amounts of zinc to maintain healthy skin and mucosal lining. A delay in wound healing renders the body susceptible to an enormous amount of infections. Before you know, the simple unhealed wound may end up getting infected and damaging parts of your body.

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Written by Giulia Guerrini