- Your body has no way to store this important mineral, so it is important to ensure you’re getting in reguarly through your diet or supplementation.
- Zinc’s main role is to help your body increase white blood cells and fight off infection. It also assists with the release of antibodies.
- Deficiency has been linked to increased instances of sickness so zinc is commonly used for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu.
- Look for supplements that combine the power of vitamin C and zinc.
- Suggested dose - normal: 15 to 30 mg per day.
- Suggested dose - COVID or viral prevention: 30-60mg
- Pregnant women should aim for 12 mg per day since it’s essential for normal fetal development.
How to incorporate
- If you’re eating a healthy well-rounded diet, you should be getting in the proper amount of zinc per day without needing a supplement.
- During winter and flu season, supplementstion might be needed to maintain slightly higher levels for a few months.
- If getting over a cold quickly is your goal, supplementing at least 75 mg per day can reduce cold duration and symptoms so you can get back to your life.
- Zinc may decrease absorption of some antibiotics when taken at same time
- Zinc may increase side effects of cisplatin
- Zinc may decrease the absorption of penicillamine
- Amiloride may increase amount of zinc in body
Zinc plays a crucial role in the function of essentially all immune cells. Deficiency of this critical element has a profound impact on immune response, increasing susceptibility to a variety of infections.208-212
One of zinc’s critical roles in immune function is its role in thymulin production and activity.213
In addition, zinc has specific and well-known antiviral properties.214
Increasing intracellular zinc concentrations in cell culture impairs the replication of a variety of RNA viruses including SARS-CoV-1. Intracellular zinc has been shown to inhibit RNA synthesis by suppressing the SARS-CoV-1 replication and transcription complex.215
In vivo evidence for zinc’s antiviral role comes from a Cochrane review that found zinc intake was associated with a significant reduction in the duration of the common cold. Many of the studies showing benefit when taken during the course of an infection were in the form of a zinc lozenge.216 It makes sense to utilize this mode of delivery during the acute infection phase.
Zinc has also been shown to suppress Th17 cell development.217
Interleukin-17 (IL-17) made by Th17 cells has been shown to drive an inflammatory feedback loop via IL-6 induction.218
Zinc dependent transcription factors are involved in the regulation of the gene expression of IL-6 and TNFα.219
The effect of SNPs in genes encoding zinc transporters on blood zinc levels in humans has been examined.220
Older individuals with gain of function IL-6 SNPs have been shown to have a greater need for zinc.221
Zinc supplement in older individuals with gain of function IL-6 SNPs and low zinc were shown to have lower IL-6 and MCP-1 levels upon zinc supplementation.222
Anosmia (loss of smell) and dysgeusia (distorted sense of taste) are commonly being reported in patients at every phase of COVID-19.223
These are also classic symptoms of zinc deficiency. It is too early in the discovery process to determine if this is cause or effect, nonetheless zinc deficiency greatly impairs immune function, especially resistance to viral infections. Notably, inadequate dietary consumption of zinc is found in almost half the older population.224
208. Shankar, AH, and 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. 209. Haase, H, Rink L, Multiple impacts of zinc on immune function. Metallomics.
210. Haase, H, Rink L, Zinc Signals and immune function. Biofactors ((2014) Jan-
211. Dardenne, M. Zinc and immune function. Eur J Clin Nutri. 2002 Aug;56
212. Chasapis, CT, Loutsidou AC, Spiliopoulou, CA, Stefanidou, ME. Zinc and
human health: an update. Arch Toxicol. 2012 Apr;86(4):521-34.
213. Bach JF, Dardenne M. Thymulin, a Zinc-Dependent Hormone. Med Oncol
Tumor Pharmacother. 1989;6(1):25-9.
214. Krenn BM, Gaudernak E, Holzer B, Lanke K, Van Kuppeveld FJM, Seipelt J.
Antiviral Activity of the Zinc Ionophores Pyrithione and Hinokitol against Picornavirus Infections. Journal of Virology Dec 2008, 83 (1) 58-64; DOI: 10.1128/JVI.01543-08
215. te Velthuis AJ, van den Worm SH, Sims AC, Baric RS, Snijder EJ, van Hemert MJ. Zn(2+) inhibits coronavirus and arterivirus RNA polymerase activity in vitro and zinc ionophores block the replication of these viruses in cell culture. PLoS Pathog. 2010 Nov 4;6(11):e1001176.
216. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Systematic Review (2013) 6. John Wiley and sons, Ltd
217. Kitabayashi C, Fukada T, Kanamoto M, Ohashi W, Hojyo S, Atsumi T, et al. Zinc suppresses Th17 development via inhibition of STAT3 activation. Int Immunol. 2010 May;22(5):375-86.
218. Ogura H, Murakami M, Okuyama Y, Tsuruoka M, Kitabayashi C, Kanamoto M, et al. Interleukin-17 promotes autoimmunity by triggering a positive-feedback loop via interleukin-6 induction. Immunity. 2008 Oct 17;29(4):628-36.
219. Mocchegiani E, Costarelli L, Giacconi R, Cipriano C, Muti E, Tesei S, Malavolta M. Nutrient-gene interaction in ageing and successful ageing. A single nutrient (zinc) and some target genes related to inflammatory/immune response. Mech. Ageing Dev. 127, 517–525.
220. Fujihara J, Yasuda T, Kimura-Kataoka K, Takinami Y, Nagao M, Takeshita H. Association of SNPs in genes encoding zinc transporters on blood zinc levels in humans. Leg Med (Tokyo). 2018 Jan;30:28-33.
221. Mocchegiani E, Romeo J, Malavolta M, Costarelli L, Giacconi R, Diaz LE, Marcos A. Zinc: dietary intake and impact of supplementation on immune function in elderly. Age (Dordr). 2013 Jun;35(3):839-60.
222. Mariani E, Neri S, Cattini L, Mocchegiani E, Malavolta M, Dedoussis GV, et al. Effect of Zinc Supplementation on Plasma IL-6 and MCP-1 Production and NK Cell Function in Healthy Elderly: Interactive Influence of +647 MT1a and -174 IL-6 Polymorphic Alleles. Exp Gerontol . 2008 May;43(5):462-71.
223. Vaira LA, Salzano G, Deiana G, De Riu G. Anosmia and ageusia: common findings in COVID-19 patients. Laryngoscope. 2020 Apr 1.
224. Pisano M, Hilas O. Zinc and Taste Disturbances in Older Adults: A Review of the Literature. Consult Pharm. 2016 May;31(5):267-70.