How Zinc supports immune health
Published March 11, 2014
Zinc is an essential mineral needed for structural and regulatory functions in the body and many aspects of cellular metabolism are zinc‐dependent. It plays a central role in the immune system and its deficiency can increase a person’s susceptibility to illness.1 Zinc is believed to influence our immune system in a number of ways:
- It’s crucial for the normal development and function of some white blood cells that are essential for good health and help keep our immune systems healthy. These cells are called neutrophils and natural killer cells.2 Lymphocytes also play an important role in maintaining our immune systems and defending us against illness.
- Zinc assists with connective tissue formation and its deficiency can result in damage to cells of the skin, and the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and lungs. The tissues are important to immunity because they act as a barrier to bacteria.2
- It functions as an antioxidant and may help to reduce free radical cell damage.
How can I ensure I get enough zinc every day?
The recommended daily intake of zinc is 8mg for women and 14mg for men 19‐70 years of age. You can obtain adequate zinc by eating a variety of zinc‐rich foods including oysters, beef, crab, turkey, beans, cashews and chickpeas.1 You might want to consider Nature’s Own™ Zinc Chelate 220mg.
- Linus Pauling Institute, Zinc, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/, Accessed October 2013
- Shankar A and Prasad A. Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 68: 447S‐463S
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