Immune Health | A Spotlight on the Power of Zinc

Practice Points

  • Up to 50% of people have sub-optimal zinc status despite the importance of zinc for optimal immune function.
  • To protect against infections, research indicates an appropriate dose of 25 mg/day of zinc. During an infection, 50-75 mg/day for 1-2 weeks is recommended.
  • Zinc supplementation is best tolerated when taken with meals.
  • High doses of zinc can induce nausea or gastrointestinal discomfort, consider taking in divided doses.
  • Caffeine and iron can reduce zinc absorption. Separate by two hours.
  • Concurrent supplementation with quercetin can enhance zinc absorption.
  • Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, and thiazide diuretics may deplete zinc and increase requirements.

Contributing to the functioning of over 300 enzymes, zinc is involved in many physiological processes and is essential for health1. Zinc is particularly crucial for normal healthy physical growth and development, with increased requirements for pregnant women, infants and adolescents2. Due to the wide-reaching effects of zinc on the body, many systems are clinically affected by inadequate zinc levels, including immune, epidermal, gastrointestinal, nervous, skeletal, and reproductive systems3. Evidence supports the role of zinc in the management of a variety of conditions, including obesity4, migraines5 and infertility6.

Although zinc is required by all body systems, one of the key areas zinc continues to shine in is its role in immune health, with evidence clearly indicating the fundamental role zinc has on supporting a healthy, robust immune system7.

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